Review: Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by Joanne Harris

Title: Peaches for Monsieur le Cure {Chocolat #3}

Author: Joanne Harris

Published: Doubleday June 2012

Synopsis: It isn’t often you receive a letter from the dead.  When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop.  But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jerome like a piece on a chessboard – slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon – a minaret.  Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat.  Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him?

Status: Read from June 11 to 12, 2012 {Courtesy Random House Australia}

My Thoughts:

When Peaches for Monsieur le Curé landed on my doorstep for review I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic. I remembered seeing the movie Chocolat quite some years ago (purely because Johnny Depp starred) and not being overly impressed, however with a few pages of this novel I was hooked and hated having to put it down, even briefly.
Peaches for Monsieur le Curé is the third book in the Chocolat series, following on from Chocolat and The Girl with No Shadow. Vianne, Roux, Anouk and Rosette are living in Paris when a letter arrives from Luc Clairmont within which is a letter from Armande, despite her death more than 8 years before. In it, Armande pleads for Vianne to return to Lansquenet with the conviction that that the townspeople need her once again. With some trepidation, Vianne and her daughters do as Armande asks, only to discover a village divided and her old rival, Monsieur Reynaud le Curé in trouble. The wind is restless as are the people and this time, Vianne’s magic may not be enough to unite the people of Lansquenet.

Joanne Harris conjures the town of Lansquenet and its people so wonderfully, I was immediately entranced by the novel. I enjoyed being introduced to the author’s versions of the characters, admiring Vianne’s spirit and desire to create peace between the French and growing community of les Maghrébins (Muslims) who have established themselves at the fringes of the town. I even came to like Monsieur le Curé, despite his stiff necked ways.
Peaches for Monsieur le Curé sensitively explores themes such as religious difference, tolerance, change and the meaning of home. The ‘war’ between the (Catholic)French and Muslims is portrayed without disrespecting either religion, as Vianne tries to determine what is at the heart of the conflict.
For Vianne the changes in Lansquent are disorientating at first, not only the development of Les Marauds, but also the changes in the people she once knew so well, like Josephine and Reynaud. Vianne’s experiences in Lansquanet forces her to consider if in always seeking change, Vianne has simply been running away.
It is food in general, rather than Vianne’s chocolates, that unites the people of this story, from the peaches growing in the garden of Armande’s house where Vianne and her daughters are living, to the feasts served at sundown in Les Marauds. Harris’s descriptions of the food, the sight, smell and taste is wonderfully evocative.

I was surprised at the rather fundamental differences between Harris characters and those in the movie of Chocolat, for example Reynaud is the town mayor in the movie, but a priest in the book. Co-incidentally, Chocolat was shown on television the night after I finished Peaches for Monsieur le Cure so I watched and was disappointed with the lack of whimsy and nuance in the film (though, Johnny Depp *sigh*).

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé (titled Peaches for Father Frances in the US) is a delicious read. I adored the subtle touch of magical realism, the lyricism of the writing, the fascinating characters and engrossing story and plan to read the first two books as soon as I can. Charming, delightful, magical, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé is a wonderful novel.

Available to Purchase

@Random House Australia I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia 

Australian editions: @Amazon (Kindle) I @Google Play

US edition (preorder) @Amazon I @BookDepository

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marg
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 07:10:27

    The title of this one caught my attention straight away but then I realised that it was the third book in a trilogy where I haven’t read the first two books, so I am not going to read it…. yet.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jun 15, 2012 @ 17:19:50

      Though usually I don’t like reading a book mid series, I think this works just fine as a standalone. I think if you have seen the movie you have enough background info to enjoy this.

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  2. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 09:58:02

    I’m like Marg: I’ve had my eye on this one, but being unfamiliar with any of Harris’s work, wonder whether I should start with something else instead. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Shelleyrae, and I’m glad you enjoyed this one!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jun 15, 2012 @ 17:22:52

      I have read something else before by Joanne Harris and didn’t like it all. Chocolat is the first book in both the Food trilogy and the Chocolat series so my suggestion would be to start there

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  3. Angelya
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 13:28:07

    Oh wow! I didn’t know there was a second book in this series, let alone a third on the way 🙂 I read Chocolat before I saw the movie and was slightly disappointed in the way they transferred it to the silver screen. I do recommend reading the book version of Chocolat as it’s so much more detailed. I’ll be adding these books to my read/re-read list, thanks 🙂

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  4. Mystica
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 13:56:38

    I love the cover of this book!

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  5. Judith
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 15:47:04

    I”m looking forward to reading this. I loved Chocolat, the second book a little less but still enough to have a great time reading it. If you enjoyed this without having read the other two books, then I’m sure I will!

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  6. parrish lantern
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 20:38:05

    Never really got into this writer, although my wife loves her work.

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  7. Kate Rizzetti
    Jun 16, 2012 @ 09:36:26

    I read chocolat a while ago and was impressed by its poetic complexity. I must have been hiding under a rock as I wasn’t aware it was a trilogy. I’m looking forward to consuming this one. Harris’s writing takes me away from the expected and that’s what I love about it.

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  8. Teddyree
    Jun 18, 2012 @ 19:29:21

    Enjoyed your review! I had no idea this was the 3rd book and I never read out of order so I’ll have to start with Chocolat 🙂

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  9. MarthaE
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 14:08:16

    I had to check out your 5star review. It sounds interesting. I have not read any by this author so this tempts me. Thanks.

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