Bitter Chocolate – Locations
The novel begins in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital city, where the St Lazâre family have lived for almost three generations. The home where Laure grows up is in Pétionville, the richest suburb of Port-au-Prince, high in the cooler hills above the city. The St Lazâre family have lived here in Pétionville for almost three generations but their fortunes are no longer what they once were. As Améline, one of the main characters in the novel says, the house ‘was a little like Haiti itself… doomed, despairing and yet beautiful still.’
The St Lazâres belong to the créole elite, the lighter-skinned families who are descendents of the inter-marriange between the French and African slaves who were brought to the island of Hispaniola in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the divisions between the races that form the backdrop of Bitter Chocolate and the inter-twined stories of Laure and Améline are still very much in evidence today. Click below for more pictures of a complex but beautiful and fascinating country.
Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, is a bold, gutsy city full of fascinating history, architecture and culture. Incidentally, the first settler in Chicago was also a Haitian, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, who arrived in the 1770s, married a Potawatomi woman and founded the area’s first trading post. Some three hundred years later, another Haitian arrives… Laure St Lazâre…
Bonwire is a small town just outside Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city. It’s the centre of the kente weaving industry, the rich, colourful cloths for which Ghanaians are rightly famed. Usually done by men on narrow looms, the entire town buzzes with the sight and sound of a thousand weavers, working away. Laure, one of the central characters in Bitter Chocolate, visits this fascinating place to learn more…
Beirut, once described as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’, has had a turbulent but fascinating past. Its history goes back almost 5,000 years. Like Lebanon itself, it has survived one conqueror after another – everyone from the Phoenicians to the French have occupied this small jewel of a nation on the edge of the Mediterranean. It is also the childhood home of the charismatic Marc Abadi, one of the central male characters in Bitter Chocolate…
The East End of London is as famous for its colourful and sometimes shabby past as it is for its vibrant present. Hugenots, Jews, Bangladeshis and Cockneys have all made this part of London home over the past century and traces of each can still be found in its street names and buildings. Laure, after leaving Chicago and her turbulent past behind her, comes to settle in and amongst the many artists who’ve set up home and shop here…