Bookguide's Reviews > Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
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Sep 15, 10

Read in August, 2010 — I own a copy

Wonderful book, but not really what I expected, having half-seen the film of 'Chocolat'. This is darker, a reconstruction of history told by somebody who knows nearly all of what happened, and attempting to discover the truth of an occupied village in France. I was left with questions at the end, as Framboise, the narrator did not know everything that her mother had done. None of the characters are particularly pleasant, except perhaps Paul. The events in the village during the war are terrible, but not unexpected considering the harshness of the German soldiers during the occupation. What was more shocking to me was the young girl's deliberate sabotage of her mother's health and sanity; it reminded me somewhat of the film 'Gaslight', where a husband tries to turn his wife mad by trickery. I was also somewhat dubious that a 9-year-old could do such a thing, or that she could be so enthralled by a man at that age that she (as well as her brother and sister) would betray their neighbours. I know children have been used in the role of betrayers and renouncers in Nazi Germany and Maoist China, but that was in the situation that the children have been brainwashed at a very early age, and fed propaganda for years. The idea that children in an occupied French village could cooperate so fully with the enemy seems too improbable, particularly as their father had been killed by the Germans. The more I think about this book, the more interesting it becomes. Interwoven with the story of the historical mysteries is the modern-day tale of Framboise's nephew and his wife who are trying to indimidate her for their own purposes, thus threatening to reveal the truths which have lain hidden for decades.

For the record, I bought this in a charity shop in England, and I'm not sure if I want to let it go travelling yet.
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