Reading guide for Five Quarters of The Orange by Joanne Harris

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Five Quarters of The Orange

by Joanne Harris

Five Quarters of The Orange by Joanne Harris X
Five Quarters of The Orange by Joanne Harris
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2001, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2002, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

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 food and often cruel demeanor -- she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribblings. Within the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old, when the Germans occupied their town.

Rich and dark, Five Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters, of the past and the present, of resisting and succumbing.


Discussion Questions
  1. Framboise's mother loved all fruit -- except for oranges, which gave her migraines. Young Framboise exploited this to her advantage. Discuss Framboise's motivations. Was she cruel, or just acting on the impulses that often drive adolescents to commit cruel acts?

  2. How did you feel about the children's involvement with Tomas? Were they morally deficient? Do you think that the author judged the children's actions anywhere in the narrative? Discuss how the presence -- or lack -- of judgment affected the tone of the novel.

  3. How is the title, Five Quarters of the Orange, manifested in the structure of the novel?

  4. What do you think Old Mother symbolized? When Framboise finally caught Old Mother, what did she lose?

  5. Why do you think Framboise returned to Les Laveuses? Was there a part of her that wanted the truth revealed?

  6. "Food was her nostalgia, her celebration, its nurture and preparation the sole outlet for her creativity" (pg 4). Framboise said this about her mother's relationship with food. Discuss the many different roles food plays in Framboise's life.

  7. How did you feel about the mixture of love and animosity that Framboise and Mirabelle feel for each other? And what about the relationship between Framboise and her own daughter? What do you think the novel says about mothers and daughters in general?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Next Year in Havana
    by Chanel Cleeton

    a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.