Anyone who has read Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, an international bestseller, will be familiar with the deliciously warm character of Vianne Rocher. In Harris’ latest novel, PEACHES FOR FATHER FRANCIS (Viking October 2012), it’s eight years later and Vianne receives a letter from beyond the grave from her friend Armande, summoning her back from her life on a houseboat in Paris to the quaint village of Lansquenet where she used to run her chocolate shop.
Upon returning with her daughters Anouk and Rosette, Vianne discovers that everything and nothing has changed in the small village. Ultimately, Vianne is left to unravel the mystery of newcomer Inés Bencharki, who is part of the new Muslim community and is stirring up things by dressing in the traditional full black veil. When tensions between the old and new communities reach a fever pitch it’s up to Vianne to rescue Father Francis and to discover what’s really going on in Lansquenet before it’s too late.
Joanne is published worldwide, in approximately 50 countries, and is the winner of several international and UK awards. She is an Honorary Fellow at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and lives with her husband in Yorkshire. And, we might add, she has a delicious sense of humor.
Joanne Harris, while on tour for the new book in the U.S., spoke with Authorlink. In this audio interview, she talks about the importance of storytelling and of how books have the ability to make connections across cultures and all over the world. She discusses the struggles we all have with what she calls "the shadow self," and of humankind's constant striving for more of everything–an endeavor that inevitably ends in a peculiar dissatisfaction. We also gain insights into the author herself. She once cried when meeting her literary hero, Ray Bradbury. Curiously, she dislikes chocolate, despite the fact that her novel Chocolat was shortlisted for the prestigious White Bread Award, then went on to become an Oscar nominated movie. It was an achievement that came as a surprise to her.