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 crêperie - 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.
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A specially abridged audio version of Joanne Harris's bestselling new novel, read by Rula Lenska.Review:
Joanne Harris' sensational novel Five Quarters of the Orange revolves around a recipe book, continuing the theme of culinary intrigue begun in Chocolat and Blackberry Wine. Framboise, the middle-aged narrator, begins her story in Les Laveuses, on the banks of the Loire:
When my mother died she left the farm to my brother, Cassis, the fortune in the wine cellar to my sister, Reine-Claude, and to me, the youngest, her album and a two-litre jar containing a single black Perigord truffle.Framboise returns to the village where she grew up during wartime, and with the help of the recipes scribbled in her mother's album, opens up a small restaurant. However, she is desperate to keep her identity a secret even amongst the aged villagers with whom she played on the banks of the Loire in the years of German occupation during the Second World War. Framboise immerses herself once again in the peaceful rhythms of village life, pungently evoked by Harris's evocative prose. But slowly, reluctantly, Framboise begins to unravel the terrible wartime secret that drove her family away from the village. As she cuts between idyllic descriptions of the village and the increasingly dark memories of the war, Framboise admits:
I know, I know. You want me to get to the point. But this is at least as important as the rest, the method of telling, and the time taken to tell. It has taken me fifty-five to begin, at least let me do it in my own way.This could be a description of Harris's prose itself, as it slowly and deliberately cuts between Framboise's fragile present and her happy childhood, destroyed by the tragic innocence of youth. Although Five Quarters of the Orange finds Harris on familiar ground to Chocolat, this is a much darker and compelling novel of childhood nostalgia and betrayal, and the need to confront the tragedies of the past before they destroy the possibilities of a happier future. -- Jerry Brotton
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