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Five Quarters of the Orange Hardcover – Large Print, Jan 1 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Center Point Pub; Lrg edition (Jan. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585471372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585471379
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.9 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,214,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

In Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris returns to the small-town, postwar France of Chocolat. This time she follows the fortunes of Framboise Dartigan, named for a raspberry but with the disposition of, well, a lemon. The proprietor of a café in a rustic village, this crabby old lady recalls the days of her childhood, which coincided with the German occupation. Back then, she and her brother and sister traded on the black market with the Germans, developing a friendship with a charismatic young soldier named Tomas. This intrigue provided a distraction from their grim home life--their father was killed in the war and their mother was a secretive, troubled woman. Yet their relationship with Tomas led to a violent series of events that still torment the aging Framboise.

Harris has a challenging project here: to show the complicated, messy reality behind such seemingly simple terms as collaborator and Resistance. To the children, of course, these were mere abstractions: "We understood so little of it. Least of all the Resistance, that fabulous quasi-organization. Books and the television made it sound so focused in later years; but I remember none of that. Instead I remember a mad scramble in which rumor chased counter-rumor and drunkards in cafes spoke loudly against the new regime." The author's portrait of occupier and occupied living side by side is given texture by her trademark appreciation of all things French. Yes, some passages read like romantic, black-and-white postcards: "Reine's bicycle was smaller and more elegant, with high handlebars and a leather saddle. There was a bicycle basket across the handlebars in which she carried a flask of chicory coffee." But these simple pleasures, recorded with such adroitness, are precisely what give Framboise solace from the torment of her past. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Framboise Dartigen relates this story from her point of view as a nine-year-old and as a woman in her 60s. She spent her childhood in a Nazi-occupied French village with her widowed mother and siblings. Knowing that the scent of oranges brought on her mother's severe migraines, Framboise was clever enough or devious enough to hoard orange peel for her own advantage. During their unsupervised play, the children met a young Nazi soldier and were captivated by his charm and the black-market gifts that he gave them. Years later, Framboise, now a widow herself, returns to the village on a quest for the truth about her family's role in a tragic event for which her mother bore the blame and was forced by the townspeople to flee. Framboise inherited her mother's journal, and soon learns that the past and the present are intertwined. Harris has woven a dark, complex story of a dysfunctional family in stressful times. As in the author's Chocolat (Viking, 2000), mother and, later, daughter are gifted cooks whose love of food and cooking shows in the wonderful descriptions of bread, cake, fruit, wine, olives, etc. A picture of life in an occupied territory emerges in which collaborators, resisters, enemies, friends, and family members live in the same area, going about their daily routines. Harris's fans will not be disappointed; her attention to detail, vivid description, and strong characterization are all in this book, too.

Carol Clark, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
Mirabelle Dartigen is a brilliant cook whose legacy to her daughter Framboise is her talent and a notebook containing her recipes. She is also a widow who is plagued by blinding migraine headaches, and addicted to the morphine she needs to survive them. These debilitating, crippling headaches are always preceded by the smell of oranges, so she will not permit an orange in her house.
Tormented by pain, drug addiction and mental illness, Mirabelle attempts to raise three children alone in war torn France after her husband is killed by the Germans. She is not up to the task, physically or mentally, and the children are left to raise themselves.
Framboise, wild to begin with, has hardened toward her mother, whose afflictions have made her distant, mean and unapproachable. In order to ensure that her mother doesn't interfere with her plans, which alternately involve telling the town's secrets to a charismatic German who brings her and her siblings presents, and trying to catch a giant pike thought to grant any wish to whomever catches it (and to bring tragedy upon anyone who sees it without catching it), Framboise steals an orange and places it in her mother's pillow in order to trigger one of her migraines.
Throughout the book, she uses oranges to control her mother, who reacts to the odor by shutting herself into her room for days in screaming, sleepless pain, while the children fend for themselves, and do as they wish.
Years later, the elderly Framboise, looking back and reading through her mother's diary-like notebook, gains some insight into the woman's agony and her own part in it.
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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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