Five Quarters of the Orange

by Joanne Harris 

Thanks again noumena12 at BookCrossing for passing on this excellent book.

The first page reads: “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 youngers, her album and a two-liter jar containing a single black Perigord truffle.”  You sense immediately the undercurrent in the family. The narrator returns to her childhood village, but something sinister happened, many years ago, during the German occupation at WWII, that forced her family to flee their home, and forced her to return under an alias.

Frambroise returns, and remodels the old house into a successful cafe, making dishes based on her mother’s recipes.  (The lucious description of the dishes is almost a food porn.)  However, scribbled all over the album are lines of an enigmatic language, the key to unlocking what happened all those years ago.

Frambroise is not a likeable character.  (Simply have to quote this from Amazon: “named for a raspberry but with the disposition of, well, a lemon.”) Not likeable as a thin-lipped old widow, and definitely not as a spunky nine-year-old.  For she was diabolic, calculating, and cold hearted. However, the complex story itself is excellently told, in a dark tone that captivates me well after the book is closed.

 Definitely will check out her other works.

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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