Chocolat is one of my all-time favourite books, so I was delighted to receive a copy of its sequel to review as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.
The Girl with No Shadow focuses less on Vianne’s story—instead it is told in the alternating voices of Vianne, her daughter Anouk and the mysterious Zozie. Joanne Harris writes each character with a distinctive voice (which was a good thing since the images identifying each section were not always the correct ones in my Early Reviewers’ copy).
While Chocolat could (almost) have taken place in the Middle Ages, this book has a much more modern feel, which contrasts more sharply with the book’s magical elements. It is also darker in tone but as engaging and as full of memorable quirky secondary characters as Chocolat was. Harris writes with her usual flair; however, I felt it took Vianne too long to clue into what was really going on and the ending stretched the limits of my credulity.
Harris has also neatly sidestepped the issue of the different endings in the book and movie versions of Chocolat, so this book works as a sequel to either. And although I generally don’t like it when publishers change the title of a novel to suit a different market, this time I think the American title better captures the darker edge of this book. (The original title was The Lollipop Shoes.)
(First posted on LibraryThing on April 7, 2008)