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Joanne Harris

tsjmom
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Joanne Harris

Post by tsjmom » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 12:08 am

I really enjoyed the movie 'Chocolat' b/c it centers around two of my favorite things: France and chocolate :) So I thought I'd venture into her other reads.

'Five Quarters of the Orange' takes place with the central character in present time recalling memories of her childhood in the Loire Valley during the German Occupation in WW2. It has some intrigue and mystery to keep it moving along. It's a very fast read with easily imagined scenes. However, it is rather dark IMO. I found that I didn't really like any of the characters on a personal level.

At the end, I just kind of felt a 'thud'. Nothing uplifting, no lesson to take away, just kind of, well, nothing. I've read other books with tragic or sad story lines, but most of them I've been able to take away something meaningful or hopeful (like 'Skeletons at the Feast'). This book, however, just felt like a rock to me. 2.5/5

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 12:15 pm

I read this one a while ago and have to say I much prefer some of her other novels - Chocolat and Blackberry wine for e.g.
Here's my review from several years ago that I've kept on archive.

I was introduced to Joanne Harris through Blackberry Wine which I thought was a wonderful novel, the sort that didn't leave my hand until I'd finished it. Five Quarters is a different kind of book entirely. The writing is still wonderful (even if you can have too much of a good thing with all that syrupy, sticky, sensual food imagery. I hope that Harris and Nigella Lawson never collaborate on a book!) but the character are a truly awful bunch and while I could raise sympathy for some of them, I couldn't like any of them and was very glad to say goodbye at the end of the book. The story itself moves through its stages like the slow, lazy, ominous stirrings of 'Old Mother' in the depths of the Loire. Boise is certainly not like any nine year old I have ever encountered. The way she behaves seems much older. Many authors stumble over portraying children with the correct nuances and psychology for their ages and Harris in my opinion definitely comes a cropper here. All that plotting and slyness with the orange peel smacks of adult subterfuge beyond the capability of a nine year old girl, even one mature enough to menstruate (very precocious indeed, especially 60 years ago and one of the elements that had me trying too hard to suspend my reader disbelief)
This is a disquieting, claustrophobic novel and although the ending is redemptive, the whole definitely left a nasty taste in the mouth of this reader!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Post by Ash » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 1:33 pm

I read Chocolat long before the movie came out and I absolutely loved it. I looked so forward to the movie and was horribly disappointed, esp when they took the priest's role and gave it to the mayor - completely changed the meaning in the book. There is a scene in the book where the priest is literally rolling in the chocolate in her store window, that means something very different from the mayor doing the same.

I tried reading another one of hers, and it just didn't have the same feel (tho I must admit like you, I read the book esp because of the title!)

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Maggie
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Post by Maggie » Sun January 11th, 2009, 8:28 am

I loved Chocolat, Blackberry Wine and I also really enjoyed Five Quarters of the Orange, I thought it was an emotional read.
I didn't like Holy Fools though.

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Sun January 11th, 2009, 11:50 am

I read her debut novel, The Evil Seed, not long ago. I really enjoyed it - a bit different to her other novels to say the least! Vampires and all that sort of thing. Quite atmospheric. It's recently been republished.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Leyland
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Post by Leyland » Sun January 11th, 2009, 1:14 pm

I've read Coastliners and enjoyed it a fair bit. I think I have it around somewhere for a possible re-read. The Breton setting and coastal ecological aspects of the story appealed to me more than going by the author's previous success with Chocolat.

I may read more Harris one day. The Evil Seed sounds interesting, Vanessa.
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

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Maggie
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Post by Maggie » Sun January 11th, 2009, 1:49 pm

I have Coastliners, I'll have to read it soon, It's been sitting on my shelf for about 3 or 4 years.

I agree The Evil Seed sounds good.

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Sun January 11th, 2009, 2:23 pm

Here's a little info about The Evil Seed from the author's website - apparently her mother wasn't a fan of the book!
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Post by annis » Sun January 11th, 2009, 5:01 pm

"Evil Seed" does sound interesting, and I've never seen a copy of it around. though I have read "Sleep, Pale Sister", which is a gothic tale of Victorian artistic life.
There are often traces of the supernatural in her novela and the accompanying child is a frequent feature.
I loved "Chocolat", but infact my favourite is "Holy Fools"

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Sun January 11th, 2009, 5:36 pm

I have Sleep Pale Sister to read. I enjoyed Chocolat, too. I also liked the film even though the ending and some of the characters have been changed.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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