Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris is the poetic sequel to Chocolat, probably best known in its movie version. This books combines the ancient cultures of witches and Aztec blood sacrifices with the modern crime of identity theft. The story of Christmas in Paris is told from the point of view of Anouk, a girl coming of age, her mother, Yanne, who is running away from her past, and Zozie who joins the family intent on stealing someone life.

With a female protagonists, and a plot drizzled with chocolate (truffles, fudge, cordials, cake, hot chocolate), you might expect a food, fashion and feelings story, but no. This is a much more lyrical story of loss and longing and smells, especially smells.
[Anouk's clothes] smell of the outside, and of the incense smoke frome Zozie's room, and the malt-biscuity scent of her sweat.
... the sweet and somewhat horsy scent of freshly cut wood.
... the patchouli-machine-oil scent of him.
My only complaint is that Yanne and Zozie, the good witch and the wicked witch, are so similar that I kept getting lost. Was I reading Yanne's story or Zozie's story? As if to confess to this weakness, each chapter is headed with a little picture to identify the chapter's viewpoint character.

LGBT Book Watch: The book includes one gay couple (street artists) with a minor role - window dressing.
Even our handsome Jean-Louis and Paulpaul, who work the Place du Tertre with such expertise, seducing the ladies into parting with their money with swashbuckling compliments and broad innuendo. You'd think as least they were what they seemed. But neither one has ever set foot in a gallery, or been to art school, and for all their masculine appeal, both of them are quietly [gay].

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