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Written by jelo singson
The protagonist of the novel is a young, free-spirited, strong-willed single mother who isn’t afraid to butt heads with the ultra-conservative cliques that rule the tiny, isolated French town of Lansquenet. Vianne has a natural empathy and a knack for listening to what people aren’t saying, a talent that draws the misunderstood and marginalized members of the community to her. This act earns both respect and indignation from the townsfolk. She arrives in town to open up a Chocolaterie during the season of Lent, a traditional time of fasting and abstinence from sensuous pleasures. This alarms Curé Francis Reynaud, parish priest and de facto ruler of the town. Despite her calm and collected exterior, Vianne lives in fear of a mysterious character she calls The Black Man, who has kept her on the run for most of her life. She mentions in the novel that everyone has his or her own “Black Man” and she believes that Curé Francis is hers whom she must overcome so that she can finally give up her wearisome itinerant lifestyle.
Curé Francis Reynaud
The parish priest and de facto ruler of the insular town of Lansquenet; he is a soft-spoken tyrant who rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove. He is suspicious of Vianne and his daughter from the beginning and tries to assess them by attempting initially to befriend them, offering to assist them in repairing and setting up their chocolaterie. Vianne refuses his assistance reinforcing Curé Francis’ suspicions that she is a dangerous person to have around his town---someone who can think for herself and serve as a model of defiance capable of influencing the rest of the sleepy town’s inhabitants. Curé Francis is a petty, vindictive, manipulative character that uses both the pulpit and his influence as the parish priest as his platform for maligning Vianne and Anouk, her young daughter. He does his absolute best to discredit Vianne and sabotage her business but fails miserably when his own gluttonous appetite gets the better of him.
A feisty, fearless eighty-year old woman who is still full of life despite her age and illness who has chosen to live alone rather than put up with the stifling care and nagging of her daughter, Caroline Clairmont. Armande is stubborn to a fault and refuses medical care and is disgusted with the idea of living out her days in a nursing home. She is diabetic and is strictly forbidden by her doctors and Caroline to eat chocolate and other rich food, a fact that she ignores because of her fervor for living life to the fullest. Her zeal for the pleasures of life and her staunch refusal to conform to the norms and conservative views of the townsfolk causes great friction between her and her daughter and Curé Francis. Caroline sees her mother as a bad influence and keeps Armande away from her grandson, Luc. Armande acts as both foil and closest confidante for Vianne, encouraging her to bravely resist conformity and social pressure exerted by Curé Francis and his followers.
Josephine Muscat is initially presented as a frightened, timid introvert in the early parts of the novel. She shies away from the rest of the inhabitants of Lansquenet and her miserable married life is frequently gossiped about. The physical, emotional, and social abuse she frequently suffers at the hands of her cruel husband, Paul, is an open secret within their community. Josephine’s life turns around when Vianne befriends her and encourages her; as the novel progresses the readers see her character blossom from a timid, abused housewife to a strong, self-reliant woman.
Paul Muscat is the foul-tempered, abusive husband of Josephine whose trite farce of a marriage is the constant topic of town gossip. Together they run a small café. When his wife finally manages to work up the courage to leave him he becomes depressed and goes on nightly drinking binges, in the process neglecting to properly manage the café nearly bankrupting it. He tries to win her back but is unsuccessful as he reverts to his misogynistic, violent ways. Unlike Josephine’s character that undergoes a metamorphosis from timidity to boldness, there is no redemptive transformation of Paul’s character mentioned in the novel.
The estranged daughter of Armande Voizin and mother of Luc who, much like Curé Francis, is spiteful and superficial. She is genuinely concerned about her mother’s condition and worries about her constantly but cannot put up with her outspoken disgust for the Curé and his clique of “bible groupies.” Her idea of properly caring for her mother is sending her away to Les Memosas, a nursing home well away from her and her family. Claire is a stereotype of insular-minded, rural folks who are more concerned with other people’s lives, her shallow character functions as foil to highlight Viannne’s selflessness and Luc’s growing sense of independence.
Claire’s perfidious husband and absentee father to Luc, not much is mentioned about him in the novel save for him being an incorrigible flirt and incapable of keeping is hands off other women.
The taciturn son of Claire and grandson of Armande, he is obedient to a fault and stutters badly when he speaks as a result of the overbearing, smothering presence of his mother. Despite his silence and his willing submission to his mother Luc actually possesses a rebellious streak and maturity beyond his age. He also possesses a love of poetry and literature. Eventually Luc learns to defy his mother’s wishes and sees his grandmother on the sly establishing a close, warm relationship with her until her passing and this act of defiance acts as a catalyst for his character transformation.
The young daughter of Vianne, she is quite capable of showing wisdom and understanding beyond her years. She has an imaginary friend/pet she calls Pantoufle.
Anouk’s imaginary friend/pet rabbit, “pantoufle” is a French word that translates into “slipper.”
The retired schoolmaster of Lansquenet and unabashed animal lover, he is an old bachelor and is lovingly devoted to his equally ancient pet dog, Charly. Curé Francis frequently reproaches Guillaume for lavishing Charly with love and attention reasoning that animals have no souls and since Charly’s death is already certain because of his age and tumor the best thing for Charly would be to put him down.
Guillaume Duplessis’s longtime pet and companion, he passes away because of old age and a tumor.
One of the mean-spirited gossipmongers in Curé Francis’ group, she possesses sharp features and works at the local school. Joline fears that Vianne is a corrupting influence in their community and because of that she refuses to let her son, Jeannot, play with Anouk.
The son of Joline Drou, he goes to school with Anouk Rocher and has a crush on her. Unfortunately his mother does not allow him to play with her.
The ersatz leader of the gypsy community that wanders into Lansquenet and briefly, Vianne’s lover; described in the novel as having red hair and rugged charms. Roux has a one-night stand with Joséphine and later in the novel becomes her lover.
The old baker whose bakeshop is now the location of Le Celesté Praline, Vianne’s chocolaterie, he had been dead four years prior to the story’s events.
The cantankerous owner of the plant nursery, he is typically grumpy to everyone else in the community save for Vianne.
Vianne's confectioner and long time friend
Zézette, Blanche and Ahmed
The three gypsies that stay behind to assist with the clean up after attending Armande's birthday fête.
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