Summary and book reviews of Five Quarters of The Orange by Joanne Harris

Five Quarters of The Orange

By Joanne Harris

Five Quarters of The Orange
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  • Hardcover: May 2001,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2002,
    320 pages.

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Book 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 she has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise recreates 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. Within 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 succumbing, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
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 the terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Although 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 scrapbook of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother.

Using this book, Framboise recreates 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...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

An overwrought and often contrived tale with one too many characters named after food.... Harris (Chocolat, 1999) is capable of elegantly sensual writing, but Five Quarters degenerates into melodrama all too soon.

Publishers Weekly

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.... Whether the previous book's readers are ready for this more serious novel is questionable.

Library Journal

Like the oranges whose fragrance so tortured Framboise's mother, the ending is bittersweet, and readers will love it. Highly recommended.

Publishers Weekly

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.... Whether the previous book's readers are ready for this more serious novel is questionable.

Booklist

The story unfolds like a crabapple blossom . . . There's not a moment of slackness in the perfectly wrought prose.

Booklist

The story unfolds like a crabapple blossom . . . There's not a moment of slackness in the perfectly wrought prose.

Library Journal

Like the oranges whose fragrance so tortured Framboise's mother, the ending is bittersweet, and readers will love it. Highly recommended.

Reader Reviews
Lily

Five Quarters of the Orange
Exquisitely written, powerful, thought provoking, engaging... This is the first of Joanne Harris' books I have read, but certainly not the last!

Mart

I thought that this book was very interesting. There is never a dull moment. While reading this book there a lot of details. The ending is a total surprise and it takes many twists and turns. Thank you Joanne Harris for writting such a wicked book!

Lauren

Though the book started rather slow, it came along very well in the latter half of the book. The characters were discribed so well that you felt like they were in your own life.

chris

Enjoyed this book very much. I will now read the other Joanne Harris' books. She is a good writer, the plot moves well, the characters are interesting and beliveable.

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