The novels of Joanne Harris are literally a feast for the senses. Her most popular novel, Chocolat, is rich and dark, a delicious combination of bittersweet romance and sensual passion. The sequel to Chocolat, The Girl with No Shadow, is maybe my favorite Harris novel to date. Her other well-known book, Blackberry Wine, is as complicated and diverse as the wines she describes in the book…you could almost smell them as you read about the vast grape fields she described.
So I knew just what to expect when I started reading Five Quarters of the Orange. Ironically though, this book left a bad taste in my mouth.
Maybe her most complex and challenging book yet, Five Quarters of the Orange tells the story of Framboise Simon and her complicated relationship with her deranged mother, Mirabelle Dartigen. Framboise is reminiscing throughout most of the book, starting off as an older woman and looking back on her life in France with her mother during the German occupation.
On a quest to better understand her mother, Framboise reads and cooks her way through her mother’s cherished book of recipes. Through small notes left by her mother between directions for bread and sweets, Framboise begins to unravel a mystery that has been haunting her family for years…and comes to discover that things are often never as they seem.
While the concept of this book orginially had me intrigued, I hate to say that I found myself continually loosing interest in this story. It wasn’t until the middle of the novel that I really began to take an interest, which is unusual for an author with such wonderful and discriptive writing. I often find myself unable to put a Harris book down, but this one, like the relationships between the characters of this book, was complicated, uncomfortable, and hard to comprehend.
Other Joanne Harris Novels Worth Reviewing:
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.