Cover image for Five quarters of the orange
Title:
Five quarters of the orange
Author:
Harris, Joanne, 1964-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, 2001.
Physical Description:
307 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060198138
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The novels of Joanne Harris are a literary feast for the senses. Five Quarters of the Orange represents Harris's most complex and sophisticated work yet -- a novel in which darkness and fierce joy come together to create an unforgettable story.

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 Mirabelle Dartigen -- the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that, look place during the German occupation decades before. Althrough Framboise hopes for a new beginning. She quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrap book of recipes site has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother's dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook -- searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother's sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor -- she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribbles. Whithin the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old.

Rich and dark. Fire Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters of the past and the present, of resisting, and succumbling, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer.


Author Notes

Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England on July 3, 1964. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. While working as a teacher for fifteen years, she published three novels: The Evil Seed (1989), Sleep, Pale Sister (1993) and Chocolat (1999), which was made into a film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Her other works include Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, The Lollipop Shoes and Runemarks. She also co-wrote two cookbooks with cookery writer Fran Warde: The French Kitchen and The French Market.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The past isn't gone, or even past, in this wrenching narrative, where every sensation is perfectly delineated, from the poisonous prick of childhood guilt to the swoon of surrender before a ripe berry tart--sensation as talisman. Writing from the restored Loire farmhouse where she grew up and lives under an assumed identity, 65-year-old Framboise recounts her life. Memories of the World War II Resistance remain, and her family's name is still despised. The story of why unfolds like a crab-apple blossom, and the tart, living fruit puckers the memory even while it nourishes. Framboise is too like her silent, taut mother, whose migraines are always preceded by the scent of oranges. Framboise uses that knowledge in the terrible way of children, to wrest a bit of freedom and control even though that means meeting with the German soldier who has enchanted her siblings and herself. That story weaves itself around the tale's present, where Framboise tries to divine her mother's notebook of recipes and jottings as if she were reading entrails. She tries to keep those luscious recipes and cryptic phrases from the hands of a dissembling nephew, for they protect secrets she is keeping, even from herself. There's not a moment of slackness in the perfectly wrought prose: light, heat, cold, softness, and, above all, the texture and shape and scent of bread and cake, fruit and wine, thyme and olive--all of these come off the page like the musk of desire. Darker than Chocolat (1999), Harris' first novel, and without a trace of the sentimentality that softened Blackberry Wine (2000), Harris' latest will strike the readers as a far more complex vintage. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido


Publisher's Weekly Review

If Harris's previous novel, Chocolat, was an adorably sweet morsel of French village lore, then this, her third, is a richer, more complex dessert wine. Still using her arsenal of culinary metaphors, quirky characters and slightly surreal incidents, Harris presents a complicated but beautiful tale involving misfortune, mystery and intense family relations. Framboise Dartigen, a feisty yet sensitive girl, grew up in a gossip-ridden hamlet on the banks of the Loire called Les Laveuses. Striving for attention and power, nine-year-old Framboise (or Boise, to her family) took to playing nasty tricks on her headstrong, mentally vulnerable mother, Mirabelle, who had a weakness for oranges. And it was not the usual affliction Mirabelle actually experienced "spells" (akin to epileptic fits) if she even smelled the fruit. But despite Framboise's girlish pranks, Mirabelle's maternal instinct was strong. When her children befriended German soldiers who were in the village during the World War II occupation, things went awry, and mother and children were forced to flee. As Framboise tells the tale, she's in her 60s and has returned to Les Laveuses, posing as a widow named Fran‡oise Simon. When the caf‚ she owns is reviewed in a national food magazine, her cover is blown and the past resurfaces. Harris has constructed a multilayered plot, punctuated with scrumptious descriptions of French delicacies and telling depictions of the war's jolting effects on one fragile family. This intense work brims with sensuality and sensitivity. (May) Forecast: Given Chocolat's brilliant success in print and on screen, this book will have no trouble attracting attention. Whether the previous book's readers are ready for this more serious novel is questionable, however. Harris, who lives in England, will make appearances in six U.S. cities in early June. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Tragedy, revenge, suspicion, and love are the ingredients for the latest offering from the author of the acclaimed Chocolat. Framboise Dartigen recounts what happened in her tiny village of Les Laveuses during the German occupation and why after carrying the secret for more than 55 years she hid her identity upon returning. Beset by wartime privations, the people of Les Laveuses were a mixture of resistance fighters, collaborators, and financial opportunists. When a German soldier died mysteriously, townspeople were executed, and Framboise's mother was tortured and driven out by her neighbors, who believed that she had collaborated. Only her children knew the truth, and now Framboise, the sole survivor, has come back to claim the family farm and run a little crperie featuring her mother's recipes. In the album she inherited from her mother are not only her recipes and mementos but also clues to what really happened so long ago. Like the oranges whose fragrance so tortured Framboise's mother, the ending is bittersweet, and readers will love it. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Five Quarters of the Orange Chapter One 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 Périgord truffle, large as a tennis ball, suspended in sunflower oil, that, when uncorked, still releases the rich dank perfume of the forest floor. A fairly unequal distribution of riches, but then Mother was a force of nature, bestowing her favors as she pleased, leaving no insight as to the workings of her peculiar logic. And as Cassis always said, I was the favorite. Not that she ever showed it when she was alive. For my mother there was never much time for indulgence, even if she'd been the type. Not with her husband killed in the war, and the farm to run alone. Far from being a comfort to her widowhood, we were a hindrance to her with our noisy games, our fights, our quarrels. If we fell ill she would care for us with reluctant tenderness, as if calculating the cost of our survival, and what love she showed took the most elementary forms: cooking pots to lick, jam pans to scrape, a handful of wild strawberries collected from the straggling border behind the vegetable patch and delivered without a smile in a twist of handkerchief. Cassis would be the man of the family. She showed even less softness toward him than to the rest of us. Reinette was already turning heads before she reached her teens, and my mother was vain enough to feel pride at the attention she received. But I was the extra mouth, no second son to expand the farm, certainly no beauty. I was always the troublesome one, the discordant one, and after my father died I became sullen and defiant. Skinny and dark like my mother, with her long graceless hands and flat feet, her wide mouth, I must have reminded her too much of herself, for there was often a tightness at her mouth when she looked at me, a kind of stoic appraisal, of fatalism. As if she foresaw that it was I, not Cassis or Reine-Claude, who would carry her memory forward. As if she would have preferred a more fitting vessel. Perhaps that was why she gave me the album, valueless then except for the thoughts and insights jotted in the margins alongside recipes and newspaper cuttings and herbal cures. Not a diary, precisely. There are almost no dates in the album, no precise order. Pages were inserted into it at random, loose leaves later bound together with small, obsessive stitches, some pages thin as onionskin, others cut from pieces of card trimmed to fit inside the battered leather cover. My mother marked the events of her life with recipes, dishes of her own invention or interpretations of old favorites. Food was her nostalgia, her celebration, its nurture and preparation the sole outlet for her creativity. The first page is given to my father's death--the ribbon of his Légion d'Honneur pasted thickly to the paper beneath a blurry photograph and a neat recipe for black buckwheat pancakes--and carries a kind of gruesome humor. Under the picture my mother has penciled Remember--dig up Jerusalem artichokes. Ha! Ha! Ha! in red. In other places she is more garrulous, but with many abbreviations and cryptic references. I recognize some of the incidents to which she refers. Others are twisted to suit the moment's needs. Still others seem to be complete inventions, lies, impossibilities. In many places there are blocks of tiny script in a language I cannot understand. Ini tnawini inoti plainexini. Ini nacini inton inraebi inti ynani eromni. Sometimes a single word, scrawled across the top or side of the page seemingly at random. On one page, seesaw in blue ink, on another, wintergreen, rapscallion, ornament in orange crayon. On another, what might be a poem, though I never saw her open any book other than one of recipes. It reads: This sweetness scooped like some bright fruit plum peach apricot watermelon perhaps from myself this sweetness It is a whimsical touch, which surprises and troubles me. That this stony and prosaic woman should in her secret moments harbor such thoughts. For she was sealed off from us--from everyone--with such fierceness that I had thought her incapable of yielding. I never saw her cry. She rarely smiled, and then only in the kitchen with her palette of flavors at her fingertips, talking to herself (so I thought) in the same toneless mutter, enunciating the names of herbs and spices-- cinnamon, thyme, peppermint, coriander, saffron, basil, lovage --running a monotonous commentary. See the tile. Has to be the right heat. Too low, the pancake is soggy. Too high, the butter fries black, smokes, the pancake crisps. I understood later that she was trying to educate me. I listened because I saw in our kitchen seminars the one way in which I might win a little of her approval, and because every good war needs the occasional amnesty. Country recipes from her native Brittany were her favorites; the buckwheat pancakes we ate with everything, the far breton and kouign amann and galette bretonne that we sold in downriver Angers with our goat's cheeses and our sausage and fruit. She always meant Cassis to have the farm. But Cassis was the first to leave, casually defiant, for Paris, breaking all contact except for his signature on a card every Christmas, and when she died, thirty years on, there was nothing to interest him in a half-derelict farmhouse on the Loire. I bought it from him with my own savings, my widow money, and at a good price too, but it was a fair deal, and he was happy enough to make it then. He understood the need to keep the place in the family. Now, of course, all that's changed. Cassis . . . Five Quarters of the Orange . Copyright © by Joanne Harris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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