Book review: Peaches for Monsieur le Curé

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé

Joanne Harris

(Doubleday, R235)

Vianne Rocher receives a letter from Lansquenet, the town she left eight years ago. It’s from her friend Armande, long dead. Her grandson had been instructed to send the letter to Vianne when he turned 21. The letter asks her to go back, because Lansquenet needs her help.

It’s a puzzling request but she and her two daughters go there for a few days. She’s surprised that very little’s changed. But the shop where she lived and made her chocolates has burned down. And there’s something peculiar in the air.

Monsieur le Curé, the town priest, has been blamed for the fire at her old shop and because of a younger replacement he will soon not be needed any more. What surprises her most is the women veiled in black, and on the banks of the Tannes River there’s a minaret crowned with a silver crescent moon. Who is Ines Bencharki? And why are all the young girls wearing black?

As the days turn into weeks Vianne becomes more involved with the people and the problems caused by misunderstandings of each other’s religions and beliefs.

It takes a while to understand why she was asked to go back and makes you realise we all need to be more tolerant. – Dianne Low