Five Quarters of the Orange

Joanne Harris

Published by Perennial / Harper-collins
ISBN 10: 0552998842 / ISBN 13: 9780552998840
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Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s). Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: When the widowed Framboise moves back to the village of Les Laveuses, where she grew up, she is pleased to discover that no-one recognises her. She soon forges a new life for herself there, and before long has established a profitable creperie. All is going well, until her profiteering nephew realises that money can be made by publishing a collection Framboise's increasingly popular recipes, left to her by her mother a woman despised throughout the village. For the book to be a success, her true identity must be revealed, opening the flood gates to a past life and painful childhood memories.

Review: 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

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Five Quarters of the Orange
Publisher: Perennial / Harper-collins
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: VERY GOOD

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