Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

Lollipop Shoes - An easy read with a pleasant story. There's nothing to really dislike!


A very girly book, but if you liked "Chocolat", then you are bound to like this one too.

It follows the same main character and her two daughters, this time through the streets of Montmatre in Paris.

If you are looking for an easy novel that you can slot between some more high brow novels, then this could be some great light relief for your book club.


The Plot


Joanne Harris resurrects Vianne Rocher from her hugely successful novel "Chocolat" but chooses to present her in a  contrasting way in The Lollipop Shoes.



She's changed her name to Yanne &  comes to settle in a seedy back corner of Montmartre, very different from the French countryside of "Chocolat."  She has her two daughters with her & aims to settle down with them here in Paris.

For those who haven't read "Chocolat", it isn't a problem; there is enough in the text to satisfy the new reader.

Vianne, or Yanne,  enters a new phase in her life. She rejects her magical powers & her old life in favour of providing a solid home base for her two girls.She sets up a Chocolate shop, suppresses her real self apart from when she makes  chocolate &, is even prepared to marry Thierry in order to give her girls stability even though the reader knows they are ill suited.

Then, into this picture, comes Zozie, also with magical powers,  who,  feigning support, eventually upsets the applecart . This leads to Vianne's reunion with Roux, the re-emergence of her old powers & her own vivacious personality, & finally, escape from the narrow confines of Montmartre.

It is an interesting story told from three  points of view; that of Zozie, Vianne & Anouk. Slowly but surely, the story unwinds over a very short period of time. At first we see Zozie as an enabler but at a price, as the plot reveals.


Characters


The three narrators in The Lollipop Shoes are the main characters; Vianne, Anouk & Zozie. 


Anouk is perhaps of greatest interest as she grapples with growing up, dealing with bullies, worrying about her own magical powers & her mother who she longs to be as she used to be. It's no wonder she's vulnerable to Zozie's manipulation. 
   
All three write in the first person singular thus making all the accounts very personal & giving  us three differing perspectives.

 In some ways they are alike:

a) they all have magical powers

b) they all create a sense of mystery & magic throughout the novel

c) they are all running away from the past, though Anouk doesn't do so voluntarily.

They also have a different agenda:

a) Vianne aims to leave her magical powers & her past behind in order to provide stability for her daughters

b) Anouk wants her mother to be as she had been & to reject Thierry in in favour of Roux

c) Zozie is  manipulative , (although she can also be empowering). She uses her powers to make both Vianne & Anouk dependent on her.

These 3 accounts & perspectives are responsible  for the overall success of the novel.


Themes


Burying, or escaping from the past, has to be a major theme. The novel illustrates the impossibility of this.




To be in denial is another one; Vianne CAN'T marry Thierry. She can't deny her natural powers  & she can't ignore her past.


And yet again,  there is a distinct lack of communication. Vianne doesn't  talk to Anouk, who is very mature for her age, & Anouk doesn't express how she feels to her mother.

This leaves them both vulnerable to Zozie, the predator. Vianne & Thierry don't communicate either; had they done so, they would have known they could never marry.


Questions?



The wind plays a central role in the Lollipop Shoes. What is the author trying to achieve and does it work?

Can you ever escape from your past? Have you ever tried to?



Vianne tries to surpress her true self and her magic - Do you think it's possible to change yourself?

Who is your favourite character? Why?

How does Zozie make Vianne and Anouk dependent on her? Have you met people like this in real life?

Could the book have been set somewhere else or is Montmatre and Paris the perfect place?

The Seedy Streets of Montmatre are quite a contrast from the countryside in Chocolat? Do you Agree? Do you see any similarities?


Like?


This is a tricky book to give a score. From a reading and pleasure perspective, this book would have scored 8/10.


We loved the description of chocolate. You  will never look at chocolate in the same way again; Joanne Harris presents the making & eating of chocolate in such a hugely sensual & sexual way.

As a Book Club Book, there was enough to talk about but the topics lacked any grit or real substance.

I would only recommend this book for a book club if you want a lighter read. There is nothing worse than having lots of depressing or very worthy books one after another.

A book like Lollipop Shoes will certainly give you a break and be a breath of fresh air.

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