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Peaches for Monsieur le Curé
Sometimes you can tell straightaway if you’re going to enjoy a book. You settle yourself comfortably in your chair, and revel in the language, the words, the story, knowing that this will be a good read.
Peaches for Monsieur le Curé is one such. By Joanne Harris, it’s the third in the series that began with Chocolat, later made into a blockbuster film.
This latest book opens with Vianne Rocher in Paris, who is almost literally blown back by the August wind to Lansquenet, where she first opened her chocolaterie eight years previously. But the village is not the same: an influx of Moroccans has settled there, bringing with them their foreign ways, their Ramadan, their niqab, and a minaret.
Vianne’s chocolaterie has been burnt down, and Monsieur le Curé is under suspicion.
The refreshing thing about Harris, and therefore about Vianne, is that she is not afraid to touch sensitive subjects, such as Islam, the treatment of women, the wearing of the niqab, and the relationship and distrust between communities.
But this book is not a treatise on Islam or Catholicism, just a rollicking feast for the imagination as the wind blows Vianne, her two daughters and ourselves, the readers, through the prejudices and friendships of this rural French community.
Joanne Harris is at Oxford Literary Festival on March 21.