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Five Quarters of the Orange

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Joanne Harris

InFive Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris returns to the small-town, postwar France ofChocolat. 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 … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Joanne Harris
Publisher: William Morrow
1 review about Five Quarters of the Orange

Different and dark

  • Sep 20, 2001
Rating:
+1
I liked "Chcolat" and therefore it was with anticipated pleasure that I began this book. It is quite well written, and the characters are well defined, and there is the pleasures of childhood in the French countryside all nicely laid out before us. But it isn't long before the allure of the story gives way to its much darker nature. There are the broader themes of the WW2 French resistance and German collaborators interwoven with the childhood memories, and how our heroine, now an elderly widow, strives to remain anonymous in a town that still despises her family because of its involvement in these matters so long ago.

It is this darkness that makes me give this book 3 stars when I might have rated it higher. The idyllic childhood is nothing of the sort - the children are neglected by their ailing widowed mother, and they quickly become infatuated with the Germans and the thrills of being involved with them in what they think is harmless fun, but secretly know to be otherwise. Our heroine is actually quite a spiteful and manipulative little girl, and although she interseperses her memories with pity for her mother, this doesn't take the edge off that spite. And even though our heroine improves with age, the current day characters of her nephew and his wife take on that continuing unpleasant role.

The novel also takes its time getting to the truth that is the core of that darkness and the reason our heroine wishes to remain anonymous. When I finally got there I was almost beyond caring about it, and I was frankly disappointed that I was able to work out what happened even before the event finally was revealed. What should have been the most suspenseful part of the book fell way short of expectations.

So all in all this was a novel that had a fascinating and complex idea, dealing with issues that are still sensitive today. However, it somehow misses the mark, and whereas it was an interesting and quite well written read, it left me feeling vaguely uncomfortable, and I'm not sure whether or not I enjoyed it.

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"Different and dark"
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