Whilst I’ve not read books two and three in this series*, after a quick Wikipedia summary of both plots I was up to speed and ready to read The Strawberry Thief.
*Note, I didn’t do this on purpose, I’d fallen for the book during the social media campaign and wasn’t aware I’d missed two in between Chocolat and The Strawberry Thief!
Vianne is back in Lansquenêt-sous-Tannes in her chocolaterie, now she is only with her younger daughter – Rosette, whilst Anouk remains in Paris with her boyfriend.
Once she was an outsider, now she seems to be accepted as one in the community. Now it seems the town needs someone new to gossip about and Harris fulfils this itch with Morgane Dubois. It appears that history is repeating itself, as the mystery and magic we felt when Vianne opened her store, is happening again with Morgane.
Whilst the reader can notice many similarities between the two women, Vianne takes a dislike to Morgane instantly and seems almost fearful of what this woman could do to the town. She reaches out to Francis Reynaud; the priest whom she had so many disagreements with in the past, but as I’ve said the atmosphere is different, now they are friends. Reynaud is intrigued by Morgane also and feels that same sense of fear, but he’s distracted by something else…
You see, the shop Morgane is renting, used to be Narcisse’s florist but sadly he has passed away. His will brings shock and outrage to his family on how he wishes to distribute his assets, but Narcisse has written ‘his story’, which may explain his decisions, except only Reynaud is allowed to read it.
Reynaud becomes absorbed in the pages but shocked by the events Narcisse depicts, and so he needs time to let the words on each page sink in before he continues. Harris allows Narcisse’s story to weave its way throughout the pages, providing a further timeline and more intrigue.
Rosette also has a POV, and her chapters help the reader understand her, allowing us to read her thoughts, even if she doesn’t vocalise them. When I think of summarising this book, the words ‘strong characterisation’ pop into my head instantly. The story is fascinating in its own right, but the characters are what makes it shine.
I read this book whilst I was in the south of France for my wedding, and the whole atmosphere made me feel an even stronger connection to this story, it’s utterly immersing and has that same magic I felt when I read Chocolat.
At first, I felt like this book would walk me down memory lane to rekindle my love for Chocolat, but it did so much more it, showed me how much Lansquenêt-sous-Tannes still has to give. What a special place. What incredible characters. A true treat.
The Strawberry Thief is out NOW in hardback and eBook versions from Orion.
Until next time, Chloé x