Chocolat by Joanne Harris

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I watched the movie, Chocolat, several years ago, so I recently decided it was time to read the book. Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention when I watched the movie, but I expected something very different when I sat down to read the book. I expected the book to be more... romantic, sensual... Instead I found it to be an exploration of the effects of intolerance. Harris takes the intolerance so rife in our world and concentrates it in one small community showing how limiting we can be when we refuse to see beyond that which we've always been taught. She deftly explores the effects of exclusionary behavior and the harm of not bothering to get to know other people. With the story set around a newcomer who opens a chocolate store during Lent and the priest who opposes not only the chocolate shop but her mere presence, the town seems divided down the middle with people willing to blind themselves to other people's pain in order to maintain the status quo of their lives. I'm not sure the book was intended to make me feel sad, but it often did because it so aptly displayed how divisive human beings can be toward one another while wrapping their judgment up in a warped version of religious righteousness or even concern. Chocolat is a thought-provoking, entertaining book with characters that touch the heart and take up residence in one's imagination.


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