The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.
But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray.
The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…
My Review ~
‘Forty years a witch and now, at last, I have become a puritan’
I am completely new to this series and Joanne Harris’s writing. I do have several on my tbr pile, which I will be aiming to read over the summer. I found The Strawberry Thief to be exceptionally well written, the writing to be both magical and emotive. It really is a feel good summer read for those seeking quirky and eccentric characters.
So lets begin…
‘Snow, out of a clear blue sky. Someone will be dead by dawn’ – Rosette
The title opens with Vianne Rocher who lives with her daughter Rosette in Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes and together they run the local chocolate shop. Vianne deeply misses older daughter Anouk whom is living in Paris. Vianne’s pain at their separation is also followed with a sense of submission to this perfectly normal coming-of-age situation. No matter what age or the circumstance, when your oldest child flies the nest, every mother feels an added sense of loss.
The novel has narratives from various points of view. Which includes Father Reynaud, but my favourite point of view, was that of young Rosette. Who unintentionally becomes the talk of town, when elderly shop owner Narcisse passes away and leaves her an expensive piece of land. Even Vianne is unsure why Narcisse would leave such a gift to a young child. Rosette is often referred to as ‘not-normal, she is often pitied. But despite all the challenges she may face in life. Someone was looking out for her, someone thought she was extra special and someone named her The Strawberry Thief.
‘Making friends isn’t easy when you’re different’
The novel draws in various characters with the reading of the will. We meet the ‘delightful’ Michele Montour (Narcisse’s materialistic daughter) and Vianne’s on/off lover Roux. Rosette is definitely more aware than people give her credit for and in her internal dialogue she begins to question her life and routines. That is until she sees a ghost in Narcisse’s empty shop and becomes entranced by a newcomer to the village.
‘Evil has no feet’
The village is alive with the mystery of Narcisse’s will and speculation turns quickly to gossip. Why did he entrust such a prime piece of land to a young girl of 16yrs old who has her head in the clouds? What makes Rosette so special?
Only one man holds the answers and they are sealed behind the privilege of confession.
Before his death Narcisse had written a letter Which upon his death would be given to Father Reynaud. The letter is a manuscript of Narcisse’s life and within we learn all the secrets he held close to his heart and the deep bond he shared with another.
It is a story that slowly broke my heart, it cuts deep into the human psyche and why we are the way we are. Why we feel the emotions we feel.
‘Love redeems us even when we think ourselves irredeemable’
I highly recommend this title for those whom enjoy quirky characters, beautiful writing and the feeling of being in a small French village as you watch the story unfold.
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