Five Qaurters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

Posted September 28, 2020 by elzaread in Book Review / 7 Comments


Title: Five Quarters of the Orange

Author: Joanne Harris
Pages: 363 (Paperback)
Published: 2002 (Black Swan)
ISBN: 978 0552 998833
Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII), Food and secrets are main ingredients
My Rating:    
Synopsis: Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets her memory play strange games.

Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Frambroise’s nephew – a profiteering Parisian – attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes she has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers of Les Laveuses. As the split blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past.  

“I know, I know. You want me to get to the point. But this is at least as important as the rest, the method of telling, and the time taken to tell. It has taken me 55 years to begin, at least let me do it in my own way.”

WWII is one of my favorite genres. Every now and then I say – enough now. I don’t want to read about The War any more. There are just too many excellent stories build around that time and I get drawn to them like the wasps to the rotten fruit in the orchards of Les Laveuses, on the banks of the Loire.
Every WWII story is unique. Everyone grasps you in a different way, some you can categorize together, some are in a league of their own. Some are about the events, some about the experiences, some about the survival and some are about the ignorance, the unrealness, this-is-but-a-childish game, or events only possible in fiction. Five Quarters of the Orange  is one of those. 
“Of course I had heard of these things. It was just that in Les Laveuses things were different. We’d all heard rumours, of course, but in my mind they had got somehow tangled with the Death Ray from The War of the Worlds. Hitler had been muddled with the pictures of Charlie Chaplan from Reinette’s film magazines, fact fusing with folklore, rumour, fiction and newsreel broadcast melting into serial-story start-fighters from beyond the planet Mars and night flights across the Rhine, gunslingers and firing-squads, U-boots and the Nautilus 20, 000 leagues under”. 

This book was beautiful written and the scenery, characters and events where visually so well described, it played like a movie in my minds eye. Especially Mirabelle Dartigen’s album with the recipes, the photos and her sometimes unreadable, sometimes assumingly mad, scribbles. 
The story is about so much more than The War and the Nazi occupation in France. In fact, it blurred more in the background. Characters you should like, you hate. Characters you should hate, you love. And that’s how and why everyone got misunderstood. Especially if you live on the continent of 9. 
True to her name, Framboise is a fermented character with layers of sugar, sweet/sour tasting with a kick you should be aware of. But she’s a liqueur that will linger. 
This was my first Joanne Harris book that I’ve read. I’ve seen Chocolat more than once and believe that Five Quarters of the orange will also make a wonderful, memorable movie. Book and movie should be enjoyed by a bottle of good wine or liqueur. 


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7 responses to “Five Qaurters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

    • Hi Heather! Our holidays are the best ever! I keep on going back to WWII stories. My Aunt was a history teacher and she always had so many stories to tell. There are sooo many stories from that era.

      Hope you are having a good week!

    • Thank you Sherry! Like I've said, I try to stop with the war stories, but I keep on going back. I have Cilka's Journey waiting for me at the moment.