Sunday, December 19, 2010


by Joanne Harris

After my recent failures to read "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Bridget Jones' Diary," I made a new policy for myself to not read books of which I've seen the movie. I know most people say, 'Oh the book was waaaaaayyy better than the movie,' and I usually agree. However, I've realized that I prefer whichever version I came across first (case in point). I don't like reading a book after I've seen the movie, because I inevitably compare the two while I'm reading; I'm playing the movie back in my head as I read. I don't like to do it. It doesn't really give the book a fair chance. But I read "Chocolat" because it was in our book discussion series "Books Made Into Films."

I enjoyed this book despite having seen the movie first. However, contrary to my usual preference, I wish this book were narrated in third person; it would have given the book a better sense of mystery and magic. There were more unanswered questions than magic. However, if the book were in third person, we wouldn't learn so much about Pere Reynaud, which I liked. Getting glimpses into Reynaud made him slightly more sympathetic, not much, but a little. At least the reader knows he doesn't condone Muscat's behavior.

Roux is much less likable in the novel as compared to the movie. But then again, who doesn't like Johnny Depp?

I enjoy that Armande plays more of a central role in the book. She's important in the movie too, but to a lesser degree. She is a wonderfully dynamic character, probably the best in the book. Armande is the most three dimensional and diverse, I would say.

I found it interesting that in the book the priest is basically "the bad guy" where in the movie, that role is taken on by the count. I think that was to make the movie less controversial. It's easier for audiences to accept the government as the "bad guy," as opposed to the church and its traditions. But the books needs the priest and the church to be the main opposition to Vianne and her way of life for the story to work.

The movie wins out this time. The book is enjoyable, but not as much.

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