Carre Gardner's Reviews > Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
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's review
Oct 19, 2011

liked it

Three and a half stars, actually. This is the story of Framboise, an aging Frenchwoman who comes back home to the village where she grew up, once the scene of a terrible tragedy with her mother at the center. With only her memory to guide her and her late mother's cryptic journal/cookbook to fill in the gaps, Framboise attempts to reconstruct the events that led to the deaths of ten villagers back when she was a child, during the German occupation of World War II. Framboise, a child of nine when the events unfolded, must come to terms with her own culpability, and so must the reader.

Food pervades this strange story; descriptions, recipes, and all the emotions good food evokes. I read this for my book club, and the members all agreed that there are some vague spots in the chain of events, making it hard, at times, to figure out just why a certain event happened, or how it triggered what happened next. As well, the author seems to make an attempt at humor with the names of the characters (the main family members are all named after food,) but I'm not sure where she was going with that. I thought it fell flat. A certain darkness runs through the story, which makes it unsettling: this is not a happy book. It's a compelling one though, and no matter what your opinion of Framboise and her mother by the time you turn the final page, I'm pretty sure it's a story that'll stay with you for awhile. Definitely worth a read.

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