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Friday, 30 January 2009

The Lollipop Shoes

by Joanne Harris

It's confession time: I've never read a Joanne Harris book. Oh, I've picked them up. I've tried to read them, but... Oh I don' t know. They just never caught me, you know? So when a friend – whose book judgement I can rarely falter – thrust this one at me, saying 'You must read this,' I was sceptical, to say the least. Then she broke even worse news – it was a sequel – of sorts – to Chocolat, - which has sat with only five pages read, glaring at me from the bookshelves for some four years now. So now, we again have Vianne Rocher, and Anouk, and even Roux – but no delicious Johnny Depp to make it all easier for me.

Reader, it was with a heavy heart that I turned to the first pages (truth to tell, I delayed the moment by reading the reviews on the first few pages. I flicked to the back to see how long it was, I re-read the back cover. I sighed, and turned to the start.)

Oooh! That Zozie is a right one! But, oh boy, can she tell a story. And so can Vianne, and so can Anouk, and oh, what a glorious story they tell.

It's four years since Chocolat ended (and don't tell me how it ends, for I can't remember the movie, and I'm now only 100 pages into the book!) and Vianne and Anouk are on the move again, but this time someone else finds them. - Zozie, who paints herself as a saviour in her lollipop shoes, but it's all for her own ends, and who will win? Well, we know who we want to win, we desperately want Vianne to remember who and what she is... But Ms Harris makes us wait, and makes us work, wonderfully.

Several bars of Divine chocolate were devoured during the reading of this book. But they were devoured with love and appreciation. Hmm... much the same as the reading of this book.

reviewed by Alison Watson

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Book news - Costa Book of the Year

The Costa Book of the Year prize has been won by Sebastian Barry for his novel The Secret Scripture. It defeated, amongst others, the memoir of 91 year old Diana Athill and The Outcast by Sadie Jones, a first novel which we reviewed here.