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Five Quarters of the Orange [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Joanne Harris
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2001 Center Point Platinum Fiction (Large Print)
In her bestselling and critically acclaimed novel Chocolat, Joanne Harris told a lush story of the conflicts between pleasure and repression. Now she delivers her most complex and sophisticated work yet, an unforgettable tale of mothers and daughters, of the past and the present, of resisting and succumbing -- an extraordinary work of fiction lined with darkness and fierce joy.

When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous woman they hold responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation years ago. But the past and present are inextricably entwined, particularly in a scrapbook of recipes and memories that Framboise has inherited from her mother. And soon Framboise will realize that the journal also contains the key to the tragedy that indelibly marked that summer of her ninth year....

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

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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

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CULINARY MYSTERY IN OCCUPIED FRANCE June 25 2009
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Different and dark Sept. 19 2001
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
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment June 14 2001
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
1.0 out of 5 stars A Fraction Off! June 25 2001
By A Customer
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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very pleasant read.
Published 2 days ago by olha bodnaruk
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a page turner
I am a member of a book club....thought it might get me to read a bit more as I usually don't . This book was chosen by our group and for me....I have to give it a 10 out of 10. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Sally Gilchrest-Unrau
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchantingly Sour
The novel Five Quarters of the Orange written by Joanne Harris is an intriguing family novel that explores the secrets and tragedies of the post war France era, as it is set in a... Read more
Published on June 4 2007 by Michele Popovich
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark but very compelling
Mirabelle Dartigen is a brilliant cook whose legacy to her daughter Framboise is her talent and a notebook containing her recipes. Read more
Published on July 19 2004 by Caroline W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark but very compelling
Mirabelle Dartigen is a brilliant chef whose legacy to her daughter Framboise is her talent and a notebook containing her recipes. Read more
Published on July 19 2004 by Caroline W.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Childhood Completely Unlike Most of Ours
The story follows a little girl and her family's life in a town during occupation during the war. She manages to get involved in the sordid blackmarket running going on in the... Read more
Published on July 14 2004 by T. L. Browne
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Patchwork Quilt
Framboise returns to the village of her youth as an old woman, unrecognizable because of her age and using a different first name along with her married name. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Gypsi Phillips Bates
How disappointing to listen to a voice performance that doesn't capture the essence of the main character. Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by Gail Cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book for all 5 senses!
This is the first book I've read by Joanne Harris, and it won't be my last! Harris writes with such poetry that involves you fully in the story, you can't put the book down. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Theresa W
3.0 out of 5 stars This berry is a little sour
What to say about a well written, interesting novel, full of compelling subject matter, evocative passages, genuine emotion and thoroughly dislikeable characters? Read more
Published on April 15 2004 by J. Fercho
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