Vianne and her daughter Anouk move to a little town in France and open a chocolate shop, which offends the priest in town because she does this right at the start of the Lent season. The two lock into a battle of wills, and the whole town gets drawn into the fight.
I first tried to read this book in fall of 2009 and failed to get very far. However, I watched the movie a few months back and really enjoyed it, so I decided to give the book another chance. I’m so glad I did!! It was fantastic, even better than the movie except in one point. I loved the back and forth between Vianne and the priest. I loved the philosophy of the book: that common courtesy, kindness, honesty, and charity towards others is what makes a person good, rather than following strict religious dogma that often excludes and hurts others. While the specific dogma targeted in this book is Catholicism, I think the same thing can be applied to any organized religion (Christian or otherwise) that rules by intimidation, bullying, deceit, and humiliation. The book also brought up wonderful points on many other issues, including spousal abuse, euthanasia, discrimination against targeted groups, smother-mothering, and the need for movement/travel versus the need to settle in a permanent place. The only issue I took with the book is the end, which I won’t spoil, but it involves the choices Vianne makes regarding that whole travel vs settling issue and her relationships in general. I liked the movie ending better! But still, wonderful book, and a great way to end the Readathon!