Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

My friend Malin gave me this book some time ago. It is by one of my favourite authors, Joanne Harris and she never disappoints you! Her books make you feel good and are always a pleasure to read. Often they tell a story about people a little bit special, and which have a past that affects their present life.

So also in this book, where Framboise Dartigen returns to her childhood home in the small village of Les Laveuses in France after fifty years. She grew up here with her mother, brother, and sister during the war. Here is the origin of the secret that has hung heavily over her and her siblings their whole life.

When their mother died she gave what little she had to be divided among the three siblings; the older brother Cassis inherited the house, the older sister, Reine-Claude, the wine cellar and Framboise herself received a photo album or more like a journal, and a huge truffle in oil. It seemed that she got away with the least valuable stuff, however, as the story evolves we realise that she made the big win.

The mother was a keen gardener and named her children after fruits!

Framboise is now a widow and wants to return to her childhood home. She bought the fire ridden ruin of the house from her brother who had no interest in living there. She returns incognito, as the widow Mrs Simon. Nobody suspects who she is, and due to activities that happened during the war, she wants to keep it this way. One thing is for sure; things do not always go the way we want.

The story moves between present and past, and little by little we get to know the whole story. A childhood game, information, however harmless, to German soldiers in exchange for magazines, lipsticks, stockings and other things in shortage, ended up in a deadly game, which real outcome only comes into light fifty years later. It forever changed the relationship between the siblings. Even as the story unfolds, it takes turns that not even Framboise could imagine.

A lovely book about lovely people. The innocence of childhood, and how it affects your future life and your relationships. A finely tuned story with people that capture you and highly recommended.

I have also enjoyed other books by Joanne Harris such as Gentlemen and Players, The Evil Seed and Blackberry Wine. Not to forget Chocolat, which I have not read, but I watched the film.

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