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Five Quarters of the Orange

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The novels of Joanne Harris are a literary feast for the senses. Five Quarters of the Orange represents Harris's most complex and sophisticated work yet - a novel in which darkness and fierce joy come together to create an unforgettable story.

When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen - the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Although Framboise hopes for a new beginning she quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrapbook of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother's dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook - searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother's sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor - she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribbles. Within the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old.

Rich and dark. Five Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters of the past and the present, of resisting, and succumbing, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer.

307 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2001

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About the author

Joanne Harris

94 books5,763 followers
Joanne Harris is also known as Joanne M. Harris

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television.
In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2022 was awarded an OBE by the Queen.
Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She also spends too much time on Twitter; plays flute and bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.

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5 stars
9,396 (26%)
4 stars
15,117 (42%)
3 stars
9,119 (25%)
2 stars
1,898 (5%)
1 star
426 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,721 reviews
Profile Image for Bethany.
225 reviews45 followers
September 9, 2007
I first read this book some time ago. When I read it, I throughly enjoyed it. This year, I found my mind going back to the book several times and decided I needed to read it again.

There are only two books (other than the Harry Potter Series) that I have read more than once - Cold Mountain, and now this book. While reading this book for the second time, I wondered at length, what is drawing me back to this book.

The story is a dark story of a child growing up with a very difficult, unpredictable mother in occupied France. The only peaceful time that is shared by mother and child is while cooking.

I have found that many people do not like stories of difficulty between children and parents. Either the readers want to escape, or they have no basis of comparison.

Each book that tells a story of this kind has been attractive to me. I often see hope where others only see darkness. These children are survivors. Their spirits are not broken even though the relationships with their parents are nearly completely destroyed.

This book is no different. The main character comes to realize the humanity of her mother after returning to her homestead (long after her mother dies) and opens a cafe. She finds that she has much in common with her mother and accepts the part of her that is so much like her mother.

Not only does this book find the hope in a difficult and unsettling relationship, it has amazing food references! Lovely images of mouth watering dishes. Overall a very good read, and I may just read it again!
393 reviews3 followers
July 22, 2008
I ended up liking this book in the end, and would maybe have given it 4 stars, if large parts of it didn't drive me so nuts. I just had a few problems with it. I had a really hard time getting into it; the real story didn't really start until 100 pages into it. And I had a really hard time connecting to the characters in any sort of way. The mom acts like she hates her children the whole book, and the children hate their mom. And when people waste that much energy being mean and cruel to each other, it's hard for me to relate to them, although there are some redeeming qualities that helped me be able to appreciate the story line in the end.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,131 followers
April 26, 2020
Five quarters of the Orange by Janne Harris is one of those novels that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

4.5 Star Rating

Set in a small town in rural France during the the Second World War, this novel tells the story of a young girl by the name Framboise Dartigen and how during the occupation of the town this young girl befriends a German Soldier and what appears to be a harmless friendship turns into something which both her family and the town will never forget for years to come.

The story is extremely well told and I loved how Harris writes in two time periods without confusing the reader, one takes place in the present day and concentrates on the widowed Fromboise and the other story takes place in the past when the children are young and we learn through the eyes of Framboise what happened in Les Laveuses. This is not a novel about the Second World War and does not focus on facts or figures or the details of history that some people might prefer, for me I have read a lot of books on the history of the war and I love my history books but this book tells a story all its own where the characters and the setting give the reader a sense of time and place and I found this a very atmospheric novel that I just wanted to finish in one go.
The writing is beautiful and while the first 100 pages are slow paced there is always a sense from the author's writing that she is building you up for a great story.

We were always raised to keep things to ourselves. It isn't a habit which can be easily broken

I loved so much about this book and really wish I had read it as a book club read as there is so much to discuss here. Its one of those books that you find out more about once you finish it when you think over all its twists and turns.
Profile Image for Julie.
555 reviews275 followers
August 8, 2018
There is something a little unbalanced about this book -- and one gets that feeling from the start. In fact, the title itself suggests a certain asymmetrical allure which is disconcerting: five quarters of the orange suggests a lopsided business, perhaps; but nonetheless a surfeit of something. The "too many" quarters-of-the-orange makes me uneasy and leaves me wondering how it will all fit back together again, once sliced. In the end, the title presages its own problematic ending.

I loved Framboise the moment I met her because contrary to the lushness that her name suggests, she is quite a tough little nut to crack. She is strong and wilful, disconcertingly honest and brave as a Spaniard. Despite that she is the youngest, her siblings pale in comparison to her; and indeed, they are written in as "extras" -- vapid little ghosts without much to them.

Framboise's dark strength is counter-balanced by her mother's ephemeral nature. For the most part, the mother suffers in a tormented hell in the curtained darkness of her room. Her migraine headaches, brought on by the scent of oranges, keeps her absent from her own life and leaves her open to the doom that the children's mischief will eventually bring upon her.

In a strange contradiction of her own nature, the mother is also a superb cook: the delicious meals she prepares would make a voluptuary blush -- an irony, and an enigma. How does one gather such fruits, (quite literally) when the rest of Europe is starving? This rang something of a false note -- but perhaps the juxtaposition suggests that out of rotten fruit can spring the most wondrous delicacies? Still ...

Some of the writing falls into cliché, at times, and I found some of the scenes to be improbable. The evening at La Mauvaise Reputation, for instance, reads like the author may have had a bit of an eye on a movie-script for Hollywood, as rife as it is with patter.

I did expect a somewhat more complex ending, especially given the originality and strength of the majority of the book. I asked myself ... can it really be that simple? ... Can it really be that banal? And then I started to wonder if the beauty wasn't in the simplicity after all.

Whatever some of its minor problems may be, every inch of this book rings with life. The sights and scents and sounds of war-torn France grip every corner of every page and I found myself turning the pages with the same relish as indulging in an epicure's meal. I think I gained 5 lbs by reading this book, so hungry was I for the menu before me.

After all is said and done: I was sorely disappointed when I reached the final paragraph, because I knew there wouldn't be more.
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,533 reviews9 followers
April 1, 2020
It is France during the Nazi Occupation and the three Dartigan children befriend a young German soldier who brings them chocolate and magazines. A seemingly harmless, secret relationship, except the youngest child, nine year old Framboise, has fallen perhaps too hard for the charming Tomas. He was very charming. And the children's mother might have known him as well, but it is now years later and Framboise has never had the courage to finally face up to what was going on that last year they lived at their family farm. Framboise anonymously moves back into the house and is reading her mother's notebook for clues when newly acquainted relatives threaten to blow her secrets, her cover, and her livelihood.

Told with flashbacks and foreshadowing, the switching between time periods was seamless. The characters all shine from the pages, and I could feel the tension that accompanied the Occupation. I loved how the mystery from the past unfolds slowly and methodically.

This might go down as one of my all-time favorite books -- if only Framboise was a little more likeable. I love precocious little girls (think Flavia de Luce) but Framboise had an evil streak in her. I forgive her, though, since her mother was such a basket case and the times were hard. I am sure I will remember her story long from now.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
October 16, 2020
Boise, named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie, letting her memory play strange games. Her way of life is threatened when her profiteering nephew arrives from Paris with the intention of plundering the recipes she inherited from her mother.

Joanne Harris turns out a scrumptious coming of age tale back-to-back with the story of the elderly Boise, returning to the village of her youth. Beautifully written as is Harris' away capturing a certain sense, a certain atmosphere of rural France with just ink and paper. This book also has a well balanced ongoing suspense drama running throughout, and is very much more a suspense novel than historical fiction in my opinion. 8 out of 12.
Profile Image for The Book Whisperer (aka Boof).
343 reviews235 followers
April 20, 2009
I am head over heels in love with this book. Only a terrific author can write about something as appalling as war and occupation and uneccesary death but yet make you feel so alive and carefree whilste reading it. The prose was as mouthwatering, succulent and juicy as the food in the book and I wanted to be there! Yes, I wanted to run down to the Loire and swim and splash and yell and hang upsidedown from trees overhanging the river and race through sun-soaked fields and pick fruit in the orchards. I wanted to sneak off on the back of bike to the nearest village to watch a film in the cinema unbeknown to my mother, I wanted to set traps in the Loire and catch fish and I wanted to go to market on a Thursday morning and sell home-made pastries. And all this under German occupation. Only a talented author can make you feel like that while telling the story of something far more sinister.

This is a book about an old woman who comes back to the village of her childhood, but can't allow the villagers to find out who she really is. Aged nine Framboise and her family has to make a hasty exit from Les Laveuses and now she can't allow them to know the truth of who she really is and also what really happnened back in 1942. The book is as sumptuous as it is teasing with bits of information that allows the reader to peice all the fragments together over the course of the story and lead us to the final catastrophic moments.

I adored this book; it was ripe, tangy and a feast for the senses. I want to read it all over again. But if not, it has made me hungry and now I need to go and raid the fridge.........
Profile Image for Hymerka.
609 reviews102 followers
November 10, 2019
Мій перший роман Джоан Гарріс, і одразу такий хороший. Обов'язково читатиму її ще.

«П'ять четвертинок апельсина» — неймовірно красиво написана, але місцями страшнюча книжка, не раз мене пробирало аж до кісток.

Франція, початок 90-их. Жінка, якій уже за п'ятдесят, викуповує успадковану братом ферму, на якій виросла, і повертається до рідного села, втім не афішуючи свого дівочого прізвища. Вона не бувала тут десятки років і з перших розділів ясно, що покинула домівку за досить несприятливих обставин. Фрамбуаз наче ховається за новою ідентичністю. Тепер вона поважна вдова Симон і хто вгадає в ній безстрашну дівчинку, яка колись тут мешкала?

Що ж саме сталося у Ле-Лавез багато років тому, коли під час війни село було під владою окупантів? І як у цьому всьому замішані діти з фруктово-ягідними іменами та їхня дещо божевільна мати? Наша оповідачка Фрамбуаз потроху розповість нам усю цю історію, яка, наче зернятко у плоді, твердою серцевиною муляє їй усе життя.

Якось трьох дітей із однієї сім'ї зачарував молодий німецький офіцер. Та так, що вони змагалися не за шоколадки чи апельсини, які він їм дарував за переказані плітки, а за його увагу і схвалення.

Якось жінка втр��тила чоловіка на війні, і, ставши вдовою, назавжди закрила серце від своїх дітей.

Якось озвірілий натовп шукав крайнього, просто когось, на кого б вилити свій гнів, породжени�� горем.

"Шістдесят років по тому вони все ще пам'ятають, і старі навчають ненависті молодих."

Та ще й ці апельсини. Хто б міг подумати, що запашний фрукт можна перетворити на знаряддя тортур.
Це книжка про дитячу жорстокість, про те, як діти все сприймають, наче гру, як частину своїх фантазій.

"Звичайно, я чула про все це. Тільки з Ле-Лавеза все мало трішки інший вигляд. Ми всі читали про нацистські концтабори, але в моїй голові вони поєдналися з променем смерті з «Війни світів». Гітлер переплівся з Чарлі Чапліном, портрети якого я бачила в кіножурналах Ренетт; факти мішались із плітками, чутками, вигадками та новинами, перетворюючись на якийсь серіал, де зоряні вояки з Марса сусідили з загарбниками з Рейну, снайпери — з розстрільною командою, а підводні човни Рейху — з Наутилусом із «Двадцяти тисяч льє під водою»."

У мене від опису того, як дитя із методичністю серійного вбивці доводить власну матір до божевілля, просто кров стигла в жилах. З-поміж багатьох злочинів, описаних у «П'ятьох четвертинках апельсина», саме цей видається мені найбільш безсердечним, підлим і глибоко аморальним. Це неймовірно яскрава демонстрація того, як розмито діти бачать різницю між добром і злом. На що тільки не готове піти мале янголятко заради можливості утекти в кіно! Мама сувора й холодна, тож можна її покарати.

"Правдива стара істина — діти жорстокі. Якщо вони ріжуть, то до самої кістки, не приховуючи мети, а ми були малими дикунами, що стають безжальними, коли відчувають слабкість."
Profile Image for Patricija || book.duo.
585 reviews383 followers
December 22, 2021

Jeigu ne Harris pavardė, niekada nebūčiau davusi šanso WW2 meto meilės istorijai, dar ir iš vaiko (dalinai) perspektyvos pasakojamai. Du dalykai, dažniausiai man literatūroje visai nereikalingi: karo romantizavimas ir pyplio požiūris į gyvenimą. Bet dieve mano, kaip čia viskas buvo skanu, kaip sodru, kaip tiršta. Kaip labai bendražmogiška, nenusaldinta, kokie tikri vaikai ir kokie tikri, toli gražu ne maži jų skausmai, per anksti užauginti ir pačių tėvų palaistyti, patręšti. Atskiras medalis už vieną geriausių mano renkamos Goodreads lentynos „Blogos mamos, blogi tėvai“ papildymą. Motinos ir dukters santykis, toksiškas iki gumulo gerklėje, savo vaizdiniais man kėlė šiurpą, iki šiol literatūroje nesutiktą tokio lygio abipusiu žiaurumu. O tuomet šiurpą kėlė tai, kaip gerai jį supratau, kaip lengvai pateisinau, kaip nė akimirkai jo reikalingumu nesuabejojau. Autorė puikiai supranta, kad dažnai prisiminimus siejame su skoniais ir kvapais, o jais žongliruoja taip, kad nenorėti valgyti šią knygą beskaitant – beveik neįmanoma. Nors vietų apetitui sugesti irgi gausu.

Mano skoniui knyga galėjo būti čiut trumpesnė, bet dažnai taip sakau. Apart to, neradau ir neieškojau prie ko prikibti – patikėjau ir meilės istorija, ir motinos toli gražu ne aklu žiaurumu, ir baime, sekančia veikėjus iki pat dienų galo. Knygoje daug detalių, kurios lengvai gali nuvesti saldžiu banalybių keliu, bet čia tokia „Mano gyvenimo žuvies“ linija, toks vaikiškas išskaičiavimas, giminių godumas ir karo pasirinktinis aklumas, kad nė akimirkai nesuabejojau autorės talentu ir šio perleidimo reikalingumu. Ir visos tos karo metų romantinės istorijos, didžiausias katastrofas išstatančios tik kaip teatro dekoracijas, kaip lengvo veikimo pinigų rinkimo bankomatus, galėtų pasimokyti iš Harris romano grakštumo, įvairialypiškumo, dviejų laiko juostų tobulos harmonijos. Bet abejoju, ar kas nors galėtų šią nukarūnuoti.
Profile Image for Vonia.
611 reviews97 followers
April 20, 2021
Blackberry Wine (1999) & Five Quarters of the Orange (2001) by Joanne Harris
Finished Reading: August 2015
Rating: 2/5 & 3/5

I read Harris' Five Quarters of the Orange & Blackberry Wine back to back, thus the double review. They are very similar, actually; a little too much. Both feature lead female protagonists that have strong, proud, independent, walled-away personalities, unwilling to accept, let alone ask, others for any sort of assistance. In both, they are not the lead character, but as the focus of the protagonist, they are as, if not more, important.

In Five Quarters of the Orange, this bold female character is Mirabelle Dartigen, the mother of present-day narrator Framboise Simon.

In Blackberry Wine, Marise d'Api is the strong female lead, writer Jay Mackintosh's unfriendly, closed off, and mysterious neighbor.

Like in all Harris' novels - the singular touch that ensures my return interest in her novels - both novels contain a food that serves as a saving elixir and the irreplaceable addition of magic and whimsy. The former uses an orange, the scent of which inexplicably increases Mirabelle's anxiety spells (for some time, admist verbal and sometimes physical abuse from her, Framboise surreptitiously leaves orange peels to seep through the ventilation so as to earn a reprieve). In the latter, the elixir is fruit-based wine, specifically a set of vintage '75s, which Jay Mackintosh finds in the remains of Pog Hill decades ago when he returns the summer following his unannounced disappearance.

Five Quarters of the Orange tells a multi-generational story with lies, secrets, family database, but with redemption, love, healing, and perseverance shining throughout. Framboise, having had a tenuous relationship with her less than ideal mother (abusive, actually) all her life, she is surprised to uncover redeeming secrets written in code in a beloved cookbook that belonged to her. Her childhood took place during the Nazi occupation, causing more than typical difficulties in her young years. Along with her siblings Cassis & Reinette, they begin associating with a German Officer named Leibwitz. For varying reasons, each idolizes, to the point of compromising their integrity by becoming informants, providing information Leibwitz utilizes to blackmail their neighbors. They rationalize this by convincing themselves as well as each other that this is harmless; it is only words, after all, and it isn't like the Germans are murdering anyone. (Although one evening there is one somewhat accidental related death.)

Framboise falls the most for Liebwitz. By, in fact, actually falling in love with him. Which leads to the event that has remained hidden for years, decades, in the family. The event that changed each of their lives forever. When he tells young Framboise that he can no longer see her, likely ever again, she cries, imploring that this not be so. When he refuses her pleas, she desperately convinces him to swim out to a dangerous area of the lake, simply to spend more time with him. He is caught in a root underwater and drowns. The three of them, Cassis, Reinette, and Framboise, surreptitiously make the body disappear, and never discuss the incident again. Their mother, despite showing no real love for them their entire lives, covers up for them when she finds out. They never know until present day that she even knew.

All these events lead to the entire city shunning the family, and following one situation too many, they flee in separate directions, barely in time escaping death by the neighbors' wrath and need to designate a scapegoat. Of course, there is also the love aspect, a childhood friend, Paul, whom she eventually lets in. Together they learn to heal. If not forget, but to accept the past, their indivual secrets, and Framboise finally makes amends with her mother.

Blackberry Wine I liked far less. Jay honestly seemed like an immature adult, left in the past. Worse yet, he is aware of it, yet quite nonchalant to the idea of changing. His personal relationships are minimal, he hardly allows himself aspirations, avoiding any real work. Honestly, none of the other main characters were that much better. His love interest, Marie A'pi, is a negative, closed off person for most of the novel. The ghost of Joe is more lovable, but honestly his presence was perplexing. I am typically a fan of magical realism, but the ghosts/spirituality aspect was not smoothly embedded into the story. it definitely stood out, causing the reading to seem off-kilter. Kerry, his initial love interest, was written like a bitch, clear and simple. All the other characters in the new town, neighbors to Jay, were not very deeply explored. Relatives to Marise (similar to the neighbors in Five Quarters of an Orange) were cold and unwilling to be understanding, believing only what they want to believe.

The only character that was well-written for me was his childhood friend during his Pog Hills days. Gilly was courageous, spunky, and had a spirit that was lovable rather than unattractive. Marise's daughter, whom Jay initially mistakes for her, comes close to bringing back the spirit.

In all, two fun reads, but I am still searching for a book from Harris in which the depth and overall significance of her words and stories match the way she has perfected the tone of magic and whimsy.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,365 reviews225 followers
September 19, 2021
”Никога не е късно да се прибереш у дома. Трябва само...да не отминаваш”

В китно френско селце по Лоара вдовицата мадам Симон купува запусната ферма и скоро се прочува с невероятните си ястия в малкото си заведение, където кулинарен критик от Париж преживява потрес от поднесеното му вълшебство. Само че вдовицата мадам Симон не е точно мадам Симон. 55 години по-рано, в един друг живот, тя е била 9-годишната Фрамбоаз Дартижан, която в разгара на нацистката окупация е тичала безстрашно из опасните плитчини на същата тази Лоара в същото това селце, опитвайки се да хване на всяка цена митичната Стара Майка - най-голямата и стара щука в реката - за да и изпълни желание, както обещават старите селски легенди. И да избяга от капана на безрадостния си дом и на собственото си объркано, необуздано и самотно порастване.

Децата често са невинни и едновременно с това безмилостно жестоки. Невероятно изобретателни. Невероятно крехки и уязвими. Попадат под зла магия и търсят и предлагат любов на най-необичайните места.

Ведрото ежедневие и апетитните рецепти са само глазура. Под нея: наредете един пласт вишни в буркана, после един пласт захар, и залейте обилно със спирт, мрачни спомени, тъмни страсти, престъпление и никога непотърсена прошка. Оставете да отлежи 55 години. Джоан Харис както винаги преплита изкусителната кулинария с голяма доза мрак. И с един по-необичаен поглед към колаборационизма през втората световна война. Петата четвъртина на портокала винаги остава скрита. Невинни няма.

⭐️3,5 звезди⭐️
Profile Image for Alison.
442 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2008
Under the shroud of a new identity an aging woman returns to her childhood town. She opens a café and reopens the wounds of her past.

In German-occupied France, 9 year old, Framboise, and her brother and sister secretly befriend a German soldier and trade secrets for black market goods. Using the black market oranges to provoke her mother’s migraine headaches, Framboise torments the woman and ensures herself unsupervised time with the soldier. The friendship spurs a series of events which affect the lives of the family and their neighbors.

Now with the perspective of age, and through the encrypted recipe book/journal left to her by her mother, Framboise learns of the events from her mother’s perspective and unravels the mystery that has haunted her and shaped her life.

Somewhat dark at times, this complex story is layered with symbolism and has the ability to haunt you long after you have finished reading. There are so many subtleties and nuances it would make a great book club read.
Profile Image for Susu.
72 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
I have to say that reading this novel made me appreciate Gentlemen and Players a bit more. This time I knew what I was getting with Joanne Harris- a dark atmospheric novel of psychological suspense. She can certainly create dysfunctional child characters! It is hard to imagine that a nine year old could be so ruthless, but it was a different time, a different place, and I felt for Framboise.
Just as Straitley was the perfect foil in Gentlemen and Players, so Paul is in Five Quarters of the Orange. I liked them both. They help soften the brutality.
One thing is certain; Joanne Harris' novels are not easily forgotten!
Profile Image for Sheri.
57 reviews19 followers
August 13, 2008
I don't really know what to say about this book. I don't know if I just wasn't really into it when I started it, or if I really didn't like it as much as I thought. It took me over 100 pages to really get into the story, and I had sort of written it off by then. But then things picked up, and the last, maybe, quarter of the book finally got good. While you are reading, you know that "something happened" and that you will eventually find out. It was frustrating to me that she gave so little information so slowly, though. I think I was just being impatient. She spills out little hints and pieces in small doses, so she still doesn't reveal what exactly happened until the last page. Literally. The characters in this book are all negative, too. So it is not uplifting in the least. It is one of those books I need to read again to fully understand, and pay attention more the second time, but I don't know if I really want to take the time to do so.
Profile Image for Nika.
307 reviews122 followers
November 28, 2019
Ну посередні враження. Сподобалося про емоційний спадок, але от чогось не вистачило. Збилася в структурі. З теми можна було витягти більше почуттів
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,388 reviews581 followers
January 7, 2016
Whew, this is a wrenching read. It's excellent and 4.5 star, IMHO.

The characters are not easily liked, very few are amiable, and the entire is both dramatically and emotionally tense. And that tension is for its entire length and continued within personality and character far beyond the ending. Because our narrator and others are never easy people.

Beyond the war and small town France location coupled with the scrumptious cooking and foodie directions, the real core of the story is the tightly coiled personalities of the youngest daughter and the Mother. A type of personality with intense likes and dislikes and invincible quantities of what we would, in my old neighborhood, call "moxie".

Of all the stories I have read upon WWII Resistance vs collaborators, this is the one that I would most probably pick as the most likely real/ true. Strong willed people are quite like that as children. The only aspect I found a slight bit off was Boise's age. She was far more like 11 than 9- but perhaps we need to accept that aberration, as well.

I won't begin to shape this plot, nor onus of each character here. All four family members, the farm, the German charmer, the relatives in the latter 20th century- all of those were developed exquisitely in this book. And putting the challenge of catching the big pike, "Old Mother", as a pivot point to a climax was also masterful. In fact, her style of reveal in two time periods was not perceived as "shifting" at all either. It linked with same mutual mood, place or issue and just seemed seamless. This is SO rare. Often times that style method breaks the continuity of tension and progress, both. This did not- it was all of one piece tone and steady persistent pressure. The sickness, the pure will of physical act, the desires for escape or to have what the heart demands- they all burn bright in each and every page without diminishing.

This is nearly a five star. I've never read this author and I sure will now. Or at least search for her other works, if any. It comes after reading several losers or abandoned in a row. And it enthralled to such a degree that I have far more enthusiasm now for researching for better fare shortly.

BTW, I have not read other reviews on this one. And I know that the stalking her mother with that orange scent is most probably a big turn off and considered vile by most. But working within clinical situations, it is exactly the kind of thorn used to nettle, even now. That kind of behavior, in girls especially, is not all that obscure or noticeably rare. Not at all. And especially within girls who have no Father figure present or in strong memory.

Thank you for this recommendation GR friends, it was a superb one.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,256 reviews1,129 followers
March 25, 2016
From the author of "Chocolat" comes this novel set in a village on the banks of the Loire. The main character again has a shop - in this case a crêperie. Again, food plays a central part in the story. But this is a much darker story altogether, and a much more satisfying read.

Framboise is the daughter of Mirabelle Dartigen - a woman held responsible by the villagers for a terrible tragedy which took place during the German occupation many years previously. Framboise returns to the village anonymously, hoping for a fresh start,
Profile Image for Anne.
372 reviews
October 7, 2009
I found this book to be quite a slog. I did finish it, which is why I feel entitled to write this negative review. The main problem I had was that I didn't like or relate to any of the characters. The writing is good enough, and the setting (an occupied French village in WWII) compelling enough that I kept going. And the cooking theme is interesting. But the central relationship between the narrator and her mother is sad and disturbing and ultimately unbelievable. How can the reader sympathize with someone who would deliberately trigger her mother's migraines using the scent of oranges? Granted, the mother is no saint, but she wasn't physically abusive either. It's too bizarre. There, I feel better now. :-)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
132 reviews11 followers
July 1, 2009
Do you know, I have a much harder time writing a review for a book that I didn't particularly like than for one I really enjoyed?

I didn't particularly like Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris, but I am at a loss to explain why. I can't point to egregiously bad writing, and while I didn't like any of the characters, that itself does not a bad book make. See, e.g., my review of The Good Terrorist. Puzzled by my reaction, I asked my mother what she thought a book needed in order to be a good book. Plot, she said, and character development, and some kind of interior growth and change for the characters. Maybe that's what this book is missing: though the characters do seem unpleasantly well-rounded, I didn't see much interior growth in the main character, Framboise, and none at all in the supporting characters.

I also felt that the author could have done so much more with the the material she used for her story. Ms. Harris's book concerns, in part, the relationships between a young German soldier and some French children and their mother in occupied France during WWII. Given the monstrosity of the Nazi regime, coupled with the fact that there were decent Germans and varying degrees of complicity in the Nazi monstrosity among Germans, I felt some kind of conflict in that arena was warranted. I also thought she could have done more with the morality of forming relationships with the enemy. Is it immoral, and if so, is morality in that context purely based on citizenship? Is it moral, and if so, does that mean we should disregard citizenship (not to mention the horrible war crimes of the Nazis)?

Finally, I have a nit to pick. There were some beautiful mouth-watering descriptions of food that the characters cooked and ate, both during the war and some 40 years afterwards. Was life in occupied France so easy that they could eat such wonderful food?
Profile Image for Filipe Miguel.
101 reviews8 followers
March 7, 2015
Joanne Harris, sal no ponto

Joanne Harris é, na sua essência, exactamente o que este livro oferece: narrativa de ritmo pausado, polvilhada de conteúdo habilmente exposto, montagem engenhosa de argumento e… descrições quase palpáveis de comidas, bebidas, cheiros e sabores.

Neste “Cinco Quartos de Laranja”, na primeira pessoa, por Framboise Dartigen, acompanhamos uma estória com frequentes flashbacks de um passado de guerra, de importância crucial para entender o presente.

Harris domina a arte do “levar até, dar a entender, mostrar o caminho, sem expor”. No romance utiliza variadas vezes esse artifício, diga-se, de forma deliberada, quase a pedir a atenção total do autor, a exclamar concentração. A gritar: “sim, quis dizer isso, relê para teres a certeza que entendeste o que leste”.

Numa obra sem personagens para aproximar, na grande maioria frias, calculistas, com dificuldades de relacionamento evidentes, Joanne consegue a proeza de afeiçoar-nos às peripécias delas e de instigar a vontade de ler um pouco mais para compreender a sucessão de acontecimentos.

Quando inicio a leitura de uma obra de Joanne Harris é precisamente isto que espero encontrar. Um romance ao nível de “Xeque ao Rei” e com os condimentos que faltaram a “Vinho Mágico”.

O café está ainda ao lume, a ferver. O seu aroma é amargamente nostálgico, um cheiro negro a folhas queimadas com uma ponta de fumo no vapor. Bebo-o muito doce, como uma vítima de choque. Acho que agora posso começar a perceber como a minha mãe deve ter-se sentido, a liberdade de deitar tudo fora.

Nota: 4.5/5.0
Profile Image for Jess The Bookworm.
540 reviews92 followers
February 17, 2016
This story follows a young girl in a village in France during World War II as she deals with a difficult relationship with her mother and misadventures with her siblings and friends, ultimately leading to a tragedy which she must come to terms with later in life, as she returns home to start over.

The story is well-written, weaving childhood whimsy with the dark and dangerous. It did take me a while to get into, as the beginning is a little all over the place, but once I got into it, it was a page turner and a kept me interested right until the end.

As Joanne Harris always likes to do, a love of food is scattered throughout, with recipes and descriptions which are mouth-watering, although, unfortunately this is not done to the extent it was in Chocolat, which is a bit of a pity.
Profile Image for Mira Margitta.
341 reviews10 followers
November 4, 2018
Uživala sam u čitanju ove knjige.Sviđa mi se spoj prošlosti i sadašnjosti i priča koju je autorica vješto ispreplela.
Divna knjiga bez patetike i klišea(koje sam valjda očekivala)
Profile Image for Tatevik.
470 reviews92 followers
June 4, 2021
Joanne Harris is a comfort zone for me. "Whenever in doubt go to library read J.Harris". I love to dive into her slow-paced stories.They are somehow similar - outcast people, secrets, a little mystery here and there, but that doesn't create any discomfort for me. I just don't read one book after another.

With Five Quarters of the Orange I had the same experience. A comfortable read about uncomfortable storyline. It even might be considered as a summer read for its advantageous mood.

Some things were not quite smooth, though.

I missed what happened to that fifth quarter of the orange, maybe because I was very sleepy while reading the last 100 pages, but wanted to know how it ends.

Also, the general plot and the ending was somehow predictable for me compared to Gentlemen and Players. I was not astonished when the mystery was being revealed layer by layer.

But the most I missed was the tasty feeling of the book I was getting from Chocolat series. Nothing here. I wanted to feel the urge to run into the kitchen as I did while reading the series. Maybe my addiction to chocolate had its influence, but still...


3.5 rounded up to 4.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,402 reviews200 followers
June 4, 2023
Under the shroud of a new identity an aging woman returns to her childhood town. She opens a café and reopens the wounds of her past.

Rich and dark.

Five Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters of the past and the present, of resisting, and succumbing, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer.

The writing is beautiful and while the first 100 pages are slow paced there is always a sense from the author's writing that she is building you up for a great story.

And amazing mouthwatering food dishes!
Profile Image for Chris.
50 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2012
What a terrific novel. It starts off like a liqueur chocolate: when you first pop it in your mouth, you are not quite sure what it will taste like. Then the further you go, the secret of the interior starts to reveal itself slowly until you are totally absorbed in its content. Couldn't put it down - a simple interwoven story, told beautifully. A must-read.
Profile Image for Olha Feidak.
73 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2022
Дивні відчуття читати про нацистів і переживати війну в Україні.
Діти, як діти в німцеві знайди трохи турботи бо їх батько загинув. Побачити чому діти жорстокі і чому наївні. І бачити про колабораціонізм і співпрацю аби вижити. І терпіти обзивання через ненадання співпраці. Цікава книга. Поданий сюжет паралелями теперішнє+ згадки. Розв'язка історії в кінці.
Profile Image for Elaine.
604 reviews234 followers
December 22, 2014
I really, really enjoyed the Chocolat trilogy but was rather disappointed with this one. Like Chocolat, at the heart of this book is the relationship between a mother and her daughter with very much a foody theme running through it. Framboise and her family grew up in a small village on the banks of the Loire in France but left suddenly after events during WWII. Years later, Framboise, now widowed, returns to her old home, keeping her identify a secret for fear of reprisals for what, for most of the read, is kept hidden from the reader, but with hints dropped every so often. Framboise and her siblings have a very complex relationship with their mother – at first glance it seems as if they don’t even hold any love for each other, let alone like each other. It is not until you get right into the heart of the story and get a real understanding of the characters that you get an idea of the true nature of their relationships.

Framboise is nine years old during the events that take place in WWII and for me this just didn’t work. She is very precocious in her actions, especially when she wages a war of continual manipulation of her mother. I really don’t think that any 9 year old would have been able to carry this off and her actions and thoughts were more suited to someone say of about 13 or 14.

The story does take quite a long while to get off the ground with the first 100 pages or so really setting the scene more than anything and it wasn’t until I got that far into the book that I started to get any real enjoyment about it.

Notwithstanding the above, Joanne Harris really does bring her setting to life, especially when she writes about food – you can almost smell what is cooking and especially the scent of the oranges that runs through the story. When the story does start unfolding it is not a bad read at all, just a bit of a disappointment after Chocolat.
Profile Image for Hannah.
63 reviews2 followers
December 25, 2010
I found this at my grandparents house on a trip when I hadn't brought anything to read. I finished it all too quickly, scarfing it down like an orange at Christmas time.

"Five Quarters of the Orange" is told from the perspective of Framboise both looking back at the past and recounting current events as an older woman, and telling "present" events as a child. Framboise and her family live in a small French village during the German occupation. The father was killed early in the war by a German, but this doesn't stop the entire family - Framboise's cold mother, her beautiful sister and her sly-but-cowardly brother - from becoming involved with the Germans... one German in particular. Things end badly, with Framboise and her family leaving the village after somehow causing the deaths of 10 people. It's not until the end, after untangling her mentally unstable mother's journal that Framboise (and the reader) figures the entire story out.

This book captured me and wouldn't let go. The words are simultaneously poetic and blunt: a naive but not innocent account from a child, and a regretful, ponderous account from the grown woman. Harris weaves a wonderful narrative.
Profile Image for Jess.
382 reviews257 followers
February 19, 2021
Sensitive, elegant, and beautifully crafted.

Five Quarters of the Orange is a slow burn, the beginning especially, but the revelation is wonderful. Harris recounts the Occupation in the most acute sense without ever using it as a convenient backdrop against which to stage melodrama. The War only haunts the fringes of the novel, instead focusing on the psychology of the characters. And oh my, am I grateful for that. (The Nightingale, I am looking at you.)

I loved the dour but deeply introspective Framboise; she had so much blood and agency. The conflict of the novel is nuanced and profoundly personal; I adore stories that examine legacy like this one. Can I also just say (on a slightly superficial level) that the choice of title is perfect? Just like Anna Hope’s Wake, it’s apt and symbolic.

Beautiful and far more rewarding than Chocolat. Bravo!
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