Five Quarters Of The Orange by Joanne Harris
Published by Black Swan
Published 1 January 2002
I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book about food’.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets her memory play strange games.
Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Frambroise’s nephew – a profiteering Parisian – attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes she has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers of Les Laveuses. As the split blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past.
When my mother died she left the farm to my brother, Cassis, the fortune in the wine cellar to my sister, Reine-Claude, and to me, the youngest, her album and a two-litre jug containing a single black Perigold truffle, large as a tennis ball and suspended in sunflower oil, which, when uncorked, still releases the rich dank perfume of the forest floor.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I thought Five Quarters of the Orange was great. I loved it. Harris is one of my favourite writers. I loved the way events unfold, moving between the present and Framboise’s fear that her dark secrets will be forced into light and the events in her past that she is so afraid of being revealed. This dual narrative works really well. I thought the characters were all well written, made of flesh and blood. I loved the setting, rural France. Harris really brings it to life and I thought I was really there at times. Five Quarters of the Orange deals with some dark subject matter including war, occupation and death but manages not to be too depressing. I’ve read other books that deal with similar subjects and they tend to be very dark and almost shocking at times. Harris is an expert at writing about such things with a spark of humanity. I found this book heart-breaking at times. I loved Five Quarters of the Orange and would highly recommend it,