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FIVE QUARTERS OF THE ORANGE Paperback – 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: BLACK SWAN (2002)
  • ISBN-10: 0552998842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998840
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
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-liter jar containing a single black Perigord truffle, large as a tennis ball, suspended in sunflower oil, that, when uncorked, still releases the rich dank perfume of the forest floor. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James W. Derry on June 25 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a novel in two parts: a childhood in occupied France and a return to the same village in old age. One part struggles for a story and the other reads like the novel is should be.
Joanne Harris has written a novel about secrets that were buried in the past but come to the surface in the present by a daughter's inheritance of her mother's obscure cook book and journal. It is about the relationship of a single mother, her three children, and a German soldier who befriends Framboise, the heroine. Like all war stories, this relationship with the enemy ends in tragedy.
The present day sections of the novel flow quickly and the character of Framboise is of more interest as she discovers there is more to her mother's treasured cookbook than recipes. The author nicely connects the coded journal notes to the village in the past but I found these sections about fishing in the Loire and buying on the black market rather slow and undramatic, especially when compared to a similar but greater novel like Suite Francaise.
This is a book with much potential and I wished it had been written slightly different, perhaps spending more time on the three siblings relationship after the war. As children they are not that interesting, except for Franboise misunderstanding of her mother. This is captured in the title, the scent of orange that drives the mother to have crippling migraines because the daughter has hidden the peel in the house.
Yet I liked this novel, and as a cook, was intrigued by the culinary references. However, it does not inspire me to read more by the author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lesley West on Sept. 19 2001
Format: Paperback
I liked "Chcolat" and therefore it was with anticipated pleasure that I began this book. It is quite well written, and the characters are well defined, and there is the pleasures of childhood in the French countryside all nicely laid out before us. But it isn't long before the allure of the story gives way to its much darker nature. There are the broader themes of the WW2 French resistance and German collaborators interwoven with the childhood memories, and how our heroine, now an elderly widow, strives to remain anonymous in a town that still despises her family because of its involvement in these matters so long ago.
It is this darkness that makes me give this book 3 stars when I might have rated it higher. The idyllic childhood is nothing of the sort - the children are neglected by their ailing widowed mother, and they quickly become infatuated with the Germans and the thrills of being involved with them in what they think is harmless fun, but secretly know to be otherwise. Our heroine is actually quite a spiteful and manipulative little girl, and although she interseperses her memories with pity for her mother, this doesn't take the edge off that spite. And even though our heroine improves with age, the current day characters of her nephew and his wife take on that continuing unpleasant role.
The novel also takes its time getting to the truth that is the core of that darkness and the reason our heroine wishes to remain anonymous. When I finally got there I was almost beyond caring about it, and I was frankly disappointed that I was able to work out what happened even before the event finally was revealed. What should have been the most suspenseful part of the book fell way short of expectations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Girl of the Seas on June 14 2001
Format: Paperback
This book sucked majorly. I'm sorry. If you think that informing on your Jewish neighbors to the Nazi occupying forces in your village is child's play, then maybe you will think that this is an okay book. I found nothing redeeming about that. The book is based on a premise that some readers will romanticize morphine addiction. This was one reader who didn't. The book magnifies the dysfunctional relationship of a mother and daughter and the plot alludes to a mystery being revealed toward the end (with movie offer fanfare, no less) but lacks coherence to evoke sympathy in this reader at least, or to draw compassion for such an uncompassionate group of characters. The Resistance movement against fascism and Nazism is alluded to in the book and what is particularly disappointing about the ending is that resistance is pronounced futile, which I found extremely irresponsible. To set the historical record straight, I would like to remind readers that the Resistance movement in Europe did much to stand against Nazism and fascism, and unless you were interested in dying in a concentration camp, Resistance was a good thing. This book is a disappointment that will only sneak by apolitical readers who were asleep during this century or have no concept of history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25 2001
Format: Paperback
Because Harris wrote a book that Hollywood turned into a pretty fair romance - Chocolat - people now seem to think she is a "good writer." Five Quarters of the Orange is poorly writen. Actually, all of Joanne Harris' books are poorly written. Although the ideas behind them are somewhat imaginative, the tedious style and self involved characters spoil the read. Five Quarters of the Orange is full of spiteful, sick, egotistical people who are totally unlikeable. Framboise Simon continually boasts of her strong and independent nature with sayings such as "I had never liked to be touched." She is a cold and hateful person - as are most of the characters in this story. If one wants magic, better to stick with Alice Hoffman!
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