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 woman they hold responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation years ago. But the past and present are inextricably entwined, particularly in a scrapbook of recipes and memories that Framboise has inherited from her mother. And soon Framboise will realize that the journal also contains the key to the tragedy that indelibly marked that summer of her ninth year. . . .
Sly and Enchanting
By Lynn Hamilton - September 16, 2001
War is hell, as we all know, but the last word on that still hasn't been said. Now Joanne Harris gives us a book that exposes the ugliness of war from the viewpoint of three neglected children, living in a German-occupied French village during World War II. In "Five Quarters of the Orange," narrator Framboise Dartigen unfolds a chilling tale in which she and her two siblings find themselves collaborating with Nazis, trading secrets about their neighbors for chocolate and comic books. The great strength of "Five Quarters of the Orange" is Harris' unflinching honesty about childhood--its capacity for treachery and cruelty. Graphic images of Framboise's war against the life of the nearby river underline this theme. After a village girl is bitten and killed by a venomous snake, Framboise nets a dozen snakes, crushes their skulls and leaves them to rot on the river banks.At the heart of the novel, as in the novelist's early work "Chocolat," is a complicated relationship... read more
From a Child's View
By TheMagus - June 29, 2001
Not since To Kill a Mockingbird have I read such an effective book written from a child's viewpoint. Five Quarters not only captures this age but this age in a certain time and place. You can almost smell the lavender and mint. You can almost taste the mouth-watering recipes Framboise and her mother prepare.Five Quarters actually has several viewpoints, all from the same character, Framboise. We enter her mind as a nine year old child during the war in France and as a middle-aged widow returning unknown to her birthplace. Finally we enter her mind as a sixty-four year old woman making peace with the past and falling in love. This is a prodigious feat for any author to pull off. While not having reached all these ages yet I still received a strong feeling of what it would be like at that point in life.The story itself is riveting and the book is one of the few that I have read recently in one sitting. There are villains and heroes, but neither are comic book characters... read more
...more than a story of the Occupation...
By curt - June 10, 2001
Harris' newest novel is darker and more complex than either Chocolat or Blackberry Wine. The story--the reminiscences of elderly, embittered Framboise Dartigan--explores the events that shaped her childhood and her village during the German occupation of France. On one level it's about the naive wartime collaboration of children and its consequences, but more importantly it's an exploration of mother-daughter relationships and how they shape the lives of multiple generations. This is a theme Harris first dipped into in Chocolat, but here the events and the emotions are sharper and more raw, and ultimately more revealing. As with her two most recent novels, food and wine are woven into the story. The discovery by Framboise of her mother's cookbook, with its secrets and emotions never revealed during her mother's life, is the vehicle that forces her to confront and to put to rest the events that have dominated her life. Harris continues to amaze, and Five Quarters is... read more