The Lollipop Shoes – Joanne Harris


“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” Desiderius Erasmus

I can identify with this quote rather too well.  I can’t say that I’m on the breadline but I do tend to think about buying books, or indeed I go ahead and buy them, before I think about buying other things.

Which is how I have accumulated so many books, just waiting for me to dive in and explore them.  My reading pattern is certainly cyclical and I go through phases of devouring them and phases where my brain won’t settle and is too distracted to do much other than skim a magazine or scan the internet (often Pinterest or Facebook).  At the moment, I am happily riding a wave of book-reading fervour.

Of late, I have noticed that the way I read has changed. I still read before bed and on my short train journey to and from work, but instead of having a book tucked in my bag, I discreetly swipe through the pages of my iPhone. I had always thought the screen to be far too small to be enjoyable but somehow I have adapted.

Switching to the iPhone also means that I can read in bed without disturbing my somnolent other half, a feat also possible on my larger kindle but for some reason I’ve largely discarded that device (perhaps a result of clogging it with so many books (gifted on a USB stick that I must add to the metaphorical “to read” shelf) that it no longer works without annoying delays and loses charge within the day). And speaking of the other half, who would have imagined that I fall in love with a non-reader! Well, he does read, but only if the words happen to be on a web page, which can occupy him for hours, but the idea of fiction leaves him cold. Infecting him with my reading bug is another project altogether…

Aside from the books, I have also accumulated a burgeoning stack of magazines over the last six months: travel magazines; food porn, sorry, magazines; National Geographic; the Saturday papers and other publications that have tickled my fancy. Having not had too much time to actually sit and read these magazines, they grew, and grew and threatened to topple over and overwhelm me. But I had a productive weekend reading, snipping, and then tossing out the papers and magazines that had built up. It felt quite cathartic and I now have some fresh menu ideas and a growing case of wanderlust too.

On the subject of wanderlust, I have only been back in my home country for four months and already my thoughts are turning to life in another land. This time I am much more focused on a move for lifestyle reasons, and sunshine.  I’d love to be able to head off somewhere new with my man and build and explore a new life together away from the hassles of London.  And if we get the chance to do that in a place which warms my bones all year through then I will gladly jump at it.  One of my friends just landed a job in the Cayman Islands and I can’t say I’m not a little jealous of such a move. I think our own move might be more Mediterranean in location, but that’s absolutely fine with me. If it means I can get that westward looking view so that I can watch the sun dip into the sea each evening then I will be approaching heaven on earth, especially if the view is from a hammock with my man, a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.

Another friend of mine, not lucky enough to be relocating to Grand Cayman, is nonetheless occupied with an enviable task. She has challenged herself to read two books each week in 2015.  Late last year she canvassed opinion on what should go on her list, favouring shorter books so as not to be climbing a mountain in her already Everest-like mission. Of course I was eager to share my top ten, carefully whittling my all-time favourites down to the requisite number. I was even able to lend to her my own well-thumbed copies from my shelves, happy to spread the love.  As she scanned my collection, it was funny to hear that we had a very similar taste in literature so she was looking forward to reading my recommendations.  I must check in with how she is getting on with the task.

My own current read is a borrowed book too. The Lollipop Shoes has been resting on my bookcase like a home away from home for far too long, and the impetus of me seeing its owner on an adventure in Prague this coming weekend spurred me to finally get around to reading it. I had started it way back in October but lost momentum. Now that I have picked it up I am gathering momentum and hope to make a good dent in it at the airport and on the journey to Prague (and I have also bought the book on Kindle so that I can continue to sneak a few illicit pages in on my extended comfort breaks this week).  The book is by Joanne Harris and is a sequel to Chocolat, a book that I scoffed in one weekend about 15 years ago in a similar fashion to how I scoff anything chocolate-related, especially chocolate. It picks up four years later in Paris, again with Viane and Anouk in a chocolate shop but going by the names Yanne and Annie. They are accompanied by the not-quite four year old Rosette, an odd little child that barely speaks. Also in the picture is a mysterious young witch going by the name of Zozie de l’Alba, probably not her real name as she appears to be in the business of assuming identities to supplement her income as a waitress. I’m intrigued as to where the story is going. Half of me is thinking that Zozie is Viane’s younger sister, possessed of the same magical qualities as Viane, Anouk and apparently Rosette too. Rosette is undoubtedly the child of Roux, Viane’s lover left behind in Lansquenet. Catch up with me by reading Chocolat and get stuck in to The Lollipop Shoes too. Bon apetit!

Click here to get the book on Amazon