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Blackberry Wine Hardcover – Large Print, May 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Large Print, May 2001
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 478 pages
  • Publisher: G K Hall & Co; Lrg edition (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0783894538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0783894539
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.3 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 739 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,869,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Joanne Harris's first novel, Chocolat, was set in the sleepy French village of Lansquenet, where enchantment, romance, and soft-centered truths issued from the local confectioner's shop. She returns to the same location for Blackberry Wine. But as the title suggests, she's shifted her focus from food to drink, choosing a half-dozen bottles of homemade plonk as the catalyst for her "layman's alchemy." And even the narrator is no human being but a faintly tannic Fleurie 1962: "A pert, garrulous wine, cheery and little brash, with a pungent taste of blackcurrant!"

There are, of course, some less vinous characters in the novel. Harris's protagonist, Jay Mackintosh, is a former literary star, now sadly stalled. He spends his time writing second-rate science fiction, leading a hollow media life, and drinking: "Not to forget, but to remember, to open up the past and find himself there again." Yet the nice, expensive wines don't do the trick. Instead, six "Specials"--a gift from his old friend Joe--function as Jay's magical elixir. Like Proust's lime-blossom tisane, they give him the gift of his memories but also unlock his future, which encourages him to flee the rut of his London life and buy a house in Lansquenet.

As Jay settles in, he contemplates his childhood friendship with Joe, whose idiosyncratic outlook was the inspiration for his only successful book. Meanwhile, he becomes involved in village life, encountering some familiar faces from Chocolat. Caro and Toinette, the snooty troublemakers, soon put in an appearance, and Josephine, the bar owner and battered wife of the earlier novel, becomes a real friend. But it's a new character, the enigmatic Marise, who becomes the focus of Jay's attention--and who helps to restore his literary joie de vivre. This feat of resurrection makes for a hugely enjoyable read. It also goes one step further in adding Lansquenet to the map of imaginary destinations, where daydreams can come true with intoxicating frequency. --Eithne Farry --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Like her well-received 1999 novel, Chocolat, Harris's latest outing unfolds around the arrival of an outsider in a tiny French town. This time wine replaces chocolate as Harris's magic elixir, and the newcomer to the village of Lansquenet sur Tannes is Jay Mackintosh, a 37-year-old has-been writer from London. Fourteen years have passed since Jay's debut novel, Jackapple Joe, won the Prix Goncourt. Since then, he has been churning out B-novels under a pseudonym; he currently lives with his girlfriend, Kerry, an aggressively successful 25-year-old celebrity journalist. Flashbacks reveal that Jay's only recollections of happiness are the golden summers he spent as a youth with old Joseph "Jackapple Joe" Cox in the small English town of Kirby Monckton. Joe, a colorful character who made wines from fruits and berries, inspired Joe's successful first novel. But one day he disappeared. When Jay stumbles across an advertisement for an 18th-century "chateau" in wine-growing country, the spell of his misery is broken. After downing a bottle of Joe's '75 Special, which he has been hoarding for 24 years, Jay decides to buy the house sight unseen. Leaving Kerry in London, Jay moves to Lansquenet and starts a new rural life, beginning to write under his own name again. He is bewildered by his reclusive neighbor, Marise d'Api, who apparently coveted his derelict house and land, and is ostracized by the townspeople. Jay's quest to discover why everyone, including Marise's former mother-in-law, blames Marise for her husband's suicide keeps the plot moving at a steady clip. Despite some unbelievable twists and a slightly uneven paceAit begins slowly, but by the last quarter races aheadAthis is an entertaining narrative, equal parts whimsy and drama. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read this novel twice, and the second time was even better than the first for the nuances that a rereading revealed. While the novel's conclusion is certainly not unexpected, and its theme of following one's dreams is commonplace,the evolving relationship between the main character, Jay, and the older man who befriends him, is a delight. Much of the novel focuses on the conflict between what Jay wants to believe about Joe and his "everyday magic" and what he finally thinks he knows. In the end, Jay's anger and disillusionment give way to a new understanding of Joe and himself; and this is achieved in a manner that I found most surprising, since, like Jay, I thought that I had Joe all figured out.

While I admit that, at times, the repeated movement between past and present meant that I felt torn out of one interesting narrative and thrust abruptly into another, I cannot think how Harris could have told this story differently, of the persistent past that continues to haunt the grown man, without leaving one or the other undeveloped.

Finally, the novel took me to a very different world and made it plausible and real. Now that's magical.
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Format: Paperback
The work of genius has been said to be 'that which can enchant a child yet move the most worldly of men to tears.' I probably don't need to say more than that to recommend this book.It is such a gem.I'm usually very picky about what I read and virtually NEVER finish reading most fictional works as they fail to engage my interest. This book had me enthralled from the moment I read the first page; I read it all in one morning and then more thoughtfully over the next couple of days. I have just finished reading it a third time.What is so enthralling about it you may ask.The book is written from the viewpoint of a vintage bottle of wine that just happens to be the same age as the main character, Jay. (Yes I'm sure you can now guess what happens right at the end.) The intense emotional saga of Jay throughout the book is neatly counterpointed by the 'character' of the bottle of wine (memories of long-remembered past summers, suppressed, changed and matured by years of 'confinement'.)The relationship between Jay and 'Jackapple Joe' will strike a chord with anyone who remembers a special childhood relationship with an old person - in particular the way the child takes everything for granted and regrets this years later when it is too late to remedy.In the book Jay is given a magical second chance with Joe (I won't spoil things for potential readers by saying how, or whether he is successful.) There are various other subtle and clever themes woven into this tale, which on a first reading appear perhaps disconnected from the more central ones. I appreciated the unity of the entire book by reading it again.Any review of an excellent work obviously does not do either the work itself or the author justice. I apologise for this. You will miss out if you do not taste 'Blackberry Wine'.
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By A Customer on March 19 2002
Format: Paperback
Retaining the atmospheric intensity of Chocolat, Joanne Harris creates another tale which cleverly interweaves the childhood
and new life of Jay Mackintosh, a one-novel wonder who now fills his time producing pulp standard science fiction and drinking
in an effort to recreate the glorious past he once possessed. After witnessing the decline of a relationship with his literary vulture girlfriend, Mackintosh buys a derelict French farmhouse in Lansquenet which inspires memories of his blissful childhood. As with fiction, nothing is quite what it seems and Jay finds himself caught in the middle of a long-standing dispute between
members of the village whilst discovering that his writing ability is now as fertile as the land surrounding him.
By cutting back to Jay's childhood, Harris encapsulates the mystique and adventure of moving to foreign fields, contrasting it with the relationships that Jay forms and breaks during his upbringing. This is often billed as being a romance novel but it can also claim to hold a number of other redeeming qualities, not just a great eye for the provincial French farmland but also the
nuances of a teenager's experiences. These range from love to betrayal and the realisation that no matter what something
appears to be, the truth is often a great deal harsher.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is not without flaws, and some of the other reviews have drawn attention to some of these. Having bought an old house recently myself, the flaw that was most annoying to me is how quickly and effortlessly Jay whips this huge old house with major structural problems into shape while also completing a novel, planting a garden, bringing an orchard and rose garden back to life, drawing major gossip out of each and every reticent villager, and finding true love.
However, when I bought the book I was looking for (as mentioned in the title) a pleasant and relaxing read, and I found it in Blackberry Wine. This book sent me looking for more of Joanne Harris, because even though it does end abruptly with loose ends untied, its language is beautiful, and it has an intoxicating and entrancing quality unique in my experience. I felt drawn into the drowsy village. It was also a book I *could* put down, which I considered a plus. I was not looking for a sleepless Maeve Binchy night!
If you're looking for a book that will knock another off your top-5 all-time favorites list, this probably isn't it. But if you're looking for an enjoyable book and lovely prose, this is a good bet.
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