Thursday, 15 July 2010

Five Quarters of the Orange

Author: Joanne Harris
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
First Line: "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-liter jar containing a single black Perigord truffle, large as a tennis ball, suspended in sunflower oil, that, when uncorked, still releases the rich dank perfume of the forest floor."

Synopsis: When Framboise Dartigen returns to her small childhood town in France after decades of being away she is glad that no one recognizes her. She changes her name and opens a small cafe using the recipes that were handed down to her by her mother in an old scrapbook. Framboise tries to blend in with the townspeople hoping that they won't realize she's the daughter of one of their most famous and notorious citizens whose actions still haunt the residents of the small town.

While reading the recipes in the scrapbook, Framboise realizes that her mother has also added notes about her life ... before the event that changed all of their lives. With the help of a close friend she tries to piece together her family's history.

The story flips back and forth from Framboise's childhood to her return to the town decades later. It focuses on the time when Framboise was a 9 year old child living in her small town that was occupied by Nazis, how she and her siblings sold information to the Nazis for special treats and also tried to deal with their abusive mother who was prone to severe migraines. In her current situation, Framboise has to deal with the ghosts of her past and learns how to finally put the past behind her.

My Thoughts: From the write up on the front cover of this book I thought it would be exactly the kind of historical fiction that I like. I'm fascinated by WWII and love reading about how regular people dealt with living during such a tumultuous and horrible time in history.

Sadly, this book just didn't interest me. I read over 2/3 of the book and was literally forcing myself to read it in the end ... so I gave up. There was never enough momentum in the book. Too many verbose descriptions -- it got to the point where I was just skimming through paragraphs trying to get the gist of it. The characters were hard to relate to and I didn't find a connection with the main character at all. I wanted to find out exactly what was the situation that caused all of the commotion for Framboise's family ... but even that couldn't hold my attention.

My Rating: 0/5 stars (aka didn't finish it)


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