July 25, 2012
The Lollipop Shoes - Joanne Harris
The thing about sequels is that as a reader you come to them with so many expectations - you want a story and characters that resonate with you the same way in which the first book did and you want them to taken further so that you feel you are getting even more of the story - an extension of what wasn't able to be given to you in the first book. You also want a sequel to carry on the tone and spirit of the initial story - you want to feel as though you are in the same world - with slight differences. These might be unrealistic expectations but they are there all the same. They are very much the expectations I had when I started reading The Lollipop Shoes, the sequel to Chocolat as part of our Paris in July event. Unfortunately, after finishing The Lollipop Shoes I didn't feel as though my sequel expectations had been met and I was left grieving for the magical feeling I had when I first read Chocolat. The risk of reading sequels!!
The Lollipop Shoes is set 5 years after Chocolat ends - Vianne (now known as Yanne), her eldest daughter Anouk (now know as Annie) and her youngest daughter Rosette are living in the Montmartre district of Paris again working in a chocolate shop but one that has none of the magic or distinctiveness of the shop Vianne had established in the village of Lansquenet. Yanne has worked hard to fade into the background, creating a "normal" life for her and her children, courting no magic or disruption. This seems like a reasonable wish for a mother of two young children but it does not feel true to the character of Vianne/Yanne at all - the spunky, vivacious woman from Chocolat has all but disappeared making the tone of the novel feel flat and hopeless. Harris has introduced a new character to try and balance this out, Zozie de l'Alba enters Yanne's live and brings the magic she is unable, or unwilling, to rustle up herself at this time. Zozie is more than what she seems and her magic, while bringing new found success and prosperity to the chocolate shop, has its downsides in the way she uses it to play Anouk and create more of a division between mother and daughter bringing the book to its ultimate climax.
This book is much longer than Chocolat - although I didn't feel it needed to be this long the end part of the book was much more engaging that the beginning and middle sections. Some familiar characters from Chocolat arrive on the scene - but even they are not able to spark the book up for me. This was just a case of the sequel not hitting the mark, or coming close to being as wonderful as the book that inspired it. I was planning to read the third book in the series, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure but I think I will stop while I am slightly ahead and the magic and glow of Chocolat is still glowing...