French-British author Joanne Harris has just released her latest book, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé. (It won’t be released in the US until October, under the title Peaches for Father Francis.) This is the third volume that focuses on the characters from Harris’s most acclaimed book, Chocolat, that was turned into the wildly successful film, starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, nominated for 5 Academy Awards. A sequel, The Lollipop Shoes, was released in the US under the title The Girl with No Shadow.
Harris’s books are often written in the magic realism style, réalisme magique (ray-al-ees-muh mah-zjeek), where the known and natural world is often layered with mystical elements. Many of her books also feature the symbolic importance of food, so it’s no surprise that Harris has also written two cookbooks: My French Kitchen: 120 Treasured Recipes and The French Market: More Recipes from a French Kitchen. I’ve enjoyed a number of her previous books, particularly the ones set in France, so I’m looking forward to reading her new release.
Harris’s French mother made sure her English born-and-raised daughter kept both sides of her culture alive. Her first language was French and her nickname at school was “The Frog.” She attended her first live theater when she was just four: a production of Molière’s Tartuffe, no less. Not only did she understand the 17th century comedy, she heckled the villain in French. She toiled as a French teacher at a boys’ school until fame hit. Harris once met actor Ewan McGregor at a party and, mistakenly thinking that he was one of her former students, let him have it about letting his French get out of practice. Ooops. I feel like she and I would have lots to discuss if we ever met – teaching French, our mutual passion for the color red and beautiful shoes, and our gift for blurting out the wrong thing. We even look a little alike!