This book sounds delicious on several levels. It has all the elements — the French countryside, dark secrets and tasty recipes — to satisfy all the senses. “Five Quarters of the Orange” is set in a small village in the Loire Valley during the World War II German occupation of France. Kaycie Hall, a staff member at Lemuria Books in Jackson, recommends this enticing book.
“You may not recognize the name, Joanne Harris, but you know her work. She wrote the novel “Chocolat” on which the movie by the same name was based,” Hall said. “I adore that book and movie, so when a friend recommended “Five Quarters of the Orange” to me, it was just extra incentive to read something else by Joanne Harris.”
The book’s narrator and main character, Framboise, tells the story of her present life now that she’s age 50 and moving back to her home village and the tragic event that occurred during World War II when she was only nine years old.
“I don’t want to give away the story, but I will say that part of what makes this novel so wonderful is Harris’ ability to blend this tragic tale of war, German occupation and a mother’s mental illness with beautiful – and kind of sensual – descriptions of the French countryside, farm life and mouth watering French recipes,” Hall said.
Hall cites the book’s recipe for cherry liqueur, a recipe given at the beginning of the book that stuck with her all the way through. It also makes her crave cherry liqueur. For the most part, the recipes come from the diary that Framboise’s mother kept as she was going mad. Seemingly meaningless notes are scribbled between lines of the recipes, and Framboise works to decode them.
“As for the dark secret bit, you’re just going to have to read the book to find out about that because I’m not telling,” Hall affirmed.
Joanne Harris is the daughter of a French mother and an English father. She studied at Cambridge University and taught school for 15 years. She has written 11 novels and a collection of short stories which have been published in more than 40 countries and have won British and international awards. She also co-authored two books of French cooking with Fran Warde.