‘Five Quarters of the Orange’ by Joanne Harris

FiveQuarters

Fiction – paperback; Black Swan; 363 pages; 2002. 

Reading a Joanne Harris book is like catching up with an old friend — enjoyable and comfortable. Five Quarters of the Orange is no exception.

Building on from her thematic explorations of the world of chocolate in Chocolat and wine-making in Blackberry Wine, this novel serves up more delicious and mouth-watering descriptions of food and baking set in a French creperie by the River Loire.

The narrator, an elderly French woman called Framboise, recalls her childhood growing up under the shadow of Nazi occupation. The experience in which her mother, an ill-tempered woman prone to migraines, is singled out as a collaborator, has forced Framboise to reinvent her past. But now this dark history, so carefully hidden, could be exposed by her nephew and his profiteering journalist wife who have their eye on their grandmother’s recipe book, now in Framboise’s possession.

Wonderfully written, seamlessly weaving the past with the present, and capturing so vividly wartime life and childhood adventure, this is a highly recommended read.

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