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Joanne Harris

(1964- )
Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Since then, she has written fourteen more novels, two collections of short stories, and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in more than fifty countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and has been a judge for the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science. She works from a shed in her garden, and lives with her husband and daughter in a little wood in Yorkshire.
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Chocolat: Pure indulgence and a hint of magic

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I love stories that feature outright magic, fantastical worlds and mythical creatures — but sometimes all it takes is a tiny dabble of enchantment to turn a story into something really special. That’s what Joanne Harris achieves with her bestseller, Chocolat, a timeless story about love, motherhood and, best of all, chocolate.

Chocolat takes place in the picturesque, fictional village of Lansquenet Sous Tannes in France. Vianne and her young daughter Anouk arrive with the wind on the day of the annual carnival. To their surprise, something about Lansquenet whispers at them to stay. They rent a tiny shop in the square, opposite the village’s only church, and set about turning it into a chocolaterie.

Vianne is a novelty in the quiet, conservati... Read More

Jigs & Reels: Like a box of chocolates, a fun collection of treats

Jigs & Reels by Joanne Harris

It's always fascinating to read short stories written by your favourite author. Without the luxury of a longer page-count, they're forced to hone their craft and get out of their comfort zone, and often some of their best work can be found in the short story format. Besides which, a lot can be said with just a few words. As Joanne Harris herself points out in her foreword, short stories: "provoke questions, whereas most novels tend to try and answer them."

Harris is perhaps best known for Chocolat, and most of her novels are so full of sensory description that you can almost see, smell, taste and feel what she's describing. However, the twenty-two short stories in Jigs & Reels (2004) are... Read More

The Gospel of Loki: Falls far short of its potential

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

I was greatly looking forward to Joanne M. HarrisThe Gospel of Loki, being a large fan of Norse mythology, anti-heroes, and subversive retellings of well-told tales. Especially if that retelling is going to be done by one known for his silvery tongue, biting wit, and clever mind. Really, if you’re going to have a first-person subversive anti-hero narrative, who would you pick over Loki as your main character?  So admittedly, maybe there is a bit of overly high expectations going on here, but while I found The Gospel of Loki enjoyable enough, it was a somewhat bland kind of enjoyment. The kind that went down easily enough, like say a plate of spaghetti topped with a mild store-brand marinara, but left you wishing for something with a lot more zing — a spicy fra diavolo sharpened with a half-dozen or so cloves of minced gar... Read More