Joanne Harris is bringing out her first novel in the Chocolat canon in seven years, with publisher Orion.
After releasing Chocolat with Transworld imprint Doubleday two decades ago, The Strawberry Thief, Harris' fourth novel to feature Vianne Rocher in the French village of Lansquenet, will publish in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio with Orion Fiction on 4th April 2019.
Harris, whose fantasy novels have been published by Orion imprint Gollancz under the name Joanne M Harris since 2014, has published three previous Chocolat novels: Chocolat (Doubleday, 1999), The Lollipop Shoes (Doubleday, 2007) and Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé (Doubleday, 2012).
In total they have sold in excess of two million copies in the UK, export and Australia and New Zealand, according to Orion. In the UK alone, Nielsen BookScan data revealed across print editions, including film tie-ins, Chocolat has sold 1,013,267 copies, The Lollipop Shoes 312,874 copies and Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé 142,098 copies, amassing just under 1.5 million copies in sales across the series.
In this latest instalment, The Strawberry Thief sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, with Rosette, her second daughter. The publisher's description reads: "But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder..."
Orion Fiction bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Peter Robinson at RCW.
Clare Hey, publishing director for Orion Fiction, said Harris' return to the Chocolat canon would "delight" readers. "Like millions of other readers, I fell for Chocolat when it was first published. So it was such a joy to be back in the world of chocolate and magic that Joanne has so skilfully woven in The Strawberry Thief," she said. "This novel will delight readers who have been patiently waiting for seven years for a return to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, as well as a whole new generation of readers, and we at Orion Fiction are delighted to be publishing it."
Harris said: "I'm thrilled to be joining such a bright and enthusiastic group of people, and to have the opportunity to bring to my literary novels the energy and imagination shown by the team dealing with my fantasy work."
Harris' work includes 16 novels, three cookbooks, a Dr Who novelette, and a number of short stories and stage musical projects, spanning genres as diverse as magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel Chocolat was famously adapted for the silver screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen. She also sits on the management committee for the Society of Authors.