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Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

About the book

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, plies her culinary trade at the crêperie – and lets her memory play strange games. As her nephew attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes Framboise has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers, memories of a disturbed childhood during the German Occupation flood back, and expose a past full of betrayal, blackmail and lies.

Reviewed by  Brockenhurst W I Reading Group:

Mixed reactions to this book, some members thought there were a few ‘loose ends’ in the story. Generally thought to be a good read.

Star rating: ***

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7 thoughts on “Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris”

  1. Review by New Forest/Waterside U.3.A Theatre & Literature Group:
    A beautifully crafted novel with all the threads neatly and believably tied at the end. For everyone there was closure or the prospect of closure. As a vehicle for discussion of what circumstances do to parents, what parents do to children and how children rise to the challenges of circumstances, this is a classic.
    Rating: ****

  2. Review by North Baddesley W I Reading Group :
    Able to read this book through with no difficulty and quite a lot of enjoyment. Food featured a lot and the descriptions of the French countryside were good. Most of the group enjoyed it, but jumping from period to period was a bit confusing. One bored by the fishing and thought the book should have been more about the ‘Recipe Book’
    Rating: ***

  3. Review by Hartley Readers Group:
    All enjoyed the book, but with many questions re its plot lines, consistency and some reservations. Also no significance and relevance of some of the events.
    Star rating: ***

  4. Review by Arle Reading Group:
    We agreed this was well written with strong characters, few of whom were likeable. The harshness of life under the occupation was in contrast to the emphasis on food and recipes central to the story. The family division begun during the occupation continued long after the war ended.
    Rating: ***

  5. Review by Ems Valley U3A
    Everyone ejoyed the book. We felt as it we were there – the colours and smells were so evocative of rural France and, at the same time, created a menacing atmosphere.
    Clever jumping between the timelines was necessary and well done.
    **** 4 stars

  6. Review by Watercress Book Club
    The book demonstrated a much darker side of children and provoked a lot of discussion particularly about the machinations of the main character Framboise. Can children really be so cruel? The theme of food was both enjoyed and disliked but all found the writing colourful and emotive. Although the plot didn’t always hang together, a little too contrived to be believable, it would make an exciting movie with lots of drama and larger-than-life characters. It even had a happy ending for Framboise at 65!
    Star rating: ***

    1. 6 out of 8 thought it was a very good read, well written with good characterisations. The other two readers did not enjoy it at all, they thought it was dark with no love and no humour.

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