Before I give my review I have to admit that Chocolat is one of my favorite movies, it's right up there with The Notebook and Practical Magic in terms of girliness and cuteness and awesomeness. Needless to say I definitely had some expectations about the book before I even started. I wasn't even sure I wanted to read it at first, but it was on my book shelf so I gave it a chance and I'm glad I did.
In case you haven't read the book or seen the movie, Chocolat begins with Vianne Rocher, a single mother, and her daughter Anouk after they arrive in a small village the day before Lent begins. As soon as they arrive the villagers, especially the priest Reynaud, are both suspicious and curious about them. Despite a wary welcome Vianne proceeds to open up her own chocolate shop, La Celeste Praline, which just happens to be across the street from the church. The rest of the story continues throughout Lent and the struggles between Reynaud (and other church goers) religious assertions and Vianne (as well as other new friends) care free attitude.
One of the main things I loved about this book was the descriptions. Joanne Harris seriously made me drool when talking about all the kinds of chocolate Vianne was creating, it was almost like I was watching the movie all over again. So yes, note to readers, don't read this book while you're hungry it'll make you crave chocolate like no other, haha.
There were several things that were a bit different from the movie (of course, no book and movie are ever exactly the same) some of which I liked, others I thought were a little off. For one, I really liked the fact that Reynaud got to narrate some chapters and I got a more in depth look to his struggles and some of the reasoning behind his rash behavior. It also made Reynaud seem more human that he was visiting a fellow priest and telling him about everything that was going on in the village. I also enjoyed the fact that Armande's character was just as tough and hilarious as Judi Dench portrayed her in the movie version. I think she was the most accurate book to screen character from the story overall.
*spoiler* The main difference between the book and the movie that I did not like was how Vianne and Roux's relationship played out. In the movie it's more mysterious and flirtatious between them and yet nothing definite happens although he does appear at the end. However in the book the fact that they actually have sex (she gets pregnant! um say what?) seemed a little too much for the story. And then the fact that Roux and Josephine ended up together after all of that? Yeah I just didn't like that soap opera type ending with those relationships.
All in all I definitely enjoyed reading Chocolat and seeing where one of my favorite movies got it's start. However I didn't love it, but I definitely didn't hate it either, so it's right up there in the 'like' section. Feel free to check it out (or just watch the movie).