Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Lollipop Shoes

The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris.

Borrowed from my local public library.

**** "Captivating"

From the back of the book: "Seeking refuge and anonymity in the cobbled streets of Montmartre, Yanne and her daughters, Rosette and Annie, live peacefully, if not happily, above their little chocolate shop. Nothing unusual marks them out; no red sachets hang by the door. The wind has stopped - at least for a while. Then into their lives blows Zozie de l'Alba, the lady with the lollipop shoes, and everything begins to change...

This book is a sequel to Chocolat, which was made into a movie, but it's not necessary for you to have read the book or seen the movie to enjoy The Lollipop Shoes.

The Lollipop Shoes is the story of a mother's love. Yanne is really Vianne, a gifted witch who uses her magic to protect her family and bring love and hope to those around her. It appears however, that her gift is placing her children in danger, so she runs away, changes her name, and swears to never  use magic again. The opening of the book finds Yanne living in fear, trying desperately to be as invisible as possible. She lives above a little chocolate shop, in which she works selling factory-bought chocolates. No longer the wearer of red dresses, and the creator of divine home-made chocolates, instead she is as brown and bland as possible.

Yanne's daughters have inherited her gift for practical magic, but Yanne is frightened of the consequences so is desperately trying to explain away any unusual occurences as "accidents". Her older daughter, Annie (formerly Anouk), is approaching adolescence, and really needs her mother. But she cannot trust the stranger that Yanne has become.

Into this mix sweeps Zozie, with her "lollipop shoes", eclectic mix of bohemian clothing and unstoppable energy. Zozie is also a witch, and befriends Annie, slyly becoming the mother figure that Annie desperately needs. She has sinister plans for the little family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this magical tale. Like Yanne, I have an eleven-year-old daughter, so the description of their increasingly difficult relationship resonated for me. It reminded me how much our children need to see us being authentic, open and not fearful. Highly recommended.

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