Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Synopsis taken from Amazon:
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 memory play strange games. Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Framboise’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 spilt blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past. Joanne Harris has looked behind the drawn shutters of occupied France to illuminate the pain, delight and loss of a life changed for ever by the uncertainties and betrayals of war.
What a lovely book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it hard to put down. There is so much that can said about it. It is full of intriguing recipes, which might be worth trying out. Harris looks into many issues, including love, childhood, death, war, secrets, family and mental illness, yet none of it is so daunting it is a hard read. All are dealt with well and sensitively, and add depth to the book.
There is action all the way through the book, right up to the last page. The descriptions were so thorough I felt like I was there with Framboise. The narrative does jump around from childhood to middle age and back to childhood again, however this did not bother me at all, I felt it fitted right in with the story.
My favourite character has to be Paul, slow Paul who actually is quite a sly dog, I loved him and found myself growing very fond of him. As the book progressed on and we delve more into the recipe book I felt more and more sorry for the Mother, a misunderstood and ill lady. I think Harris wrote her wonderfully.
The only complaints I can think of were there were a lot of characters with similar names, and I forgot who was who, and there was also some writing in French and German that I didn’t understand which wasn’t translated. Apart from that, this is a superb book.