Tag Archive > Joanne Harris

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé

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Peaches for Monsieur le Curé, Joanne Harris, book reviewPeaches for Monsieur le Curé is the third in Joanne Harris’s series of novels featuring Vianne Rocher. It resumes Vianne’s story four years after readers left her and her partner Roux and her two daughters, Anouk and Rosette, living on a houseboat on the Seine in Paris (in ‘The Lollipop Shoes’) and eight years after she and Anouk left the village of Lansquenet-sur-Tannes.

Having thought she’d never go back there, a letter from a (now dead) friend calls her back to Lansquenet. Someone is in trouble, the letter says, and needs Vianne’s help; that person would never ask for help himself. Leaving Roux behind, Vianne and the girls return to the village where Vianne had her pretty little chocolate shop; while outwardly nothing appears to have changed, there is something unsettling that Vianne can’t put her finger on.


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Five Quarters of the Orange

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Five Quarters of the Orange,  Joanne Harris, book reviewThis is the story of Framboise – no, not a bottle of raspberry liqueur (thank heavens), but rather the woman by that name from a farm on the river Loire in the French village of Les Laveuses. This is partially the story of Framboise’s troubled childhood with her brother (named Casis), sister (Reine-Claude) and especially her unwell and widowed mother (who was, of course, an amazing cook) during the years of WWII and Nazi occupied France. It is also the story of her no less troubling old age – accounted from the time she returns to the village in her ‘retirement’, in order to open a creperie. She tries to avoid the past from painfully being dredged up by using a different name. However, we all know that mysteries and provincial villages never mix – especially when delicious food is being served by a curious stranger (who doesn’t seem terribly strange) and her secrets are bound to be sniffed out to be inhaled deeply by the local folk, much like the pungent release of the scent from an orange that has just had a thumb pressed into is juicy flesh.


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Chocolat

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Chocolat, Joanne Harris, book reviewWhen Vianne Rocher, her daughter Anouk (with Pantoufle – an imaginary rabbit) breeze into the small, religious, French town of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with the intention of opening a chocolate shop during the holy time of Lent, you just know that there’s going to be some problems. Since Vianne is a single mother, you can imagine that the least of her problems might be her tempting confections on the town’s citizens, who are trying to deny their weak bodies. You see, Vianne believes in magic – not just the magic of delicious foods, but also in the magic of life itself, and that isn’t going to go down well with the pious mayor of the town, Reynaud, whose championing of Christianity is the village’s moral cornerstone. This is the story of Joanne Harris’ most famous book, Chocolat, which led to a major motion picture.


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Blackberry Wine

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Blackberry Wine, Joanne Harris, book reviewJay Mackintosh is a writer whose first hit novel “Jackapple Joe” was based on a man he met as a boy in the late 70s in an ex-mining town in England called Pog Hill. It’s now 1999, however, and he hasn’t written anything serious since – only junk novels under an assumed name. Suddenly, inspiration catches him and he impulsively buys a house in some no-where town in France, determined to get back his muse.

My first impressions of this book were immediately mixed. The first chapter is actually told from the point of view of a bottle of wine – a Fleurie, 1962 to be precise, and one might assume that the book was supposed to be totally from this viewpoint.


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Best Served Cold

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Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris, book review“The place is St Oswald’s, an old and long-established boys’ grammar school in the north of England. A new year has just begun, and for the staff and boys of the School, a wind of unwelcome change is blowing. Suits, paperwork and Information Technology rule the world; and Roy Straitley, Latin master, eccentric, and veteran of St Oswald’s, is finally – reluctantly – contemplating retirement. But beneath the little rivalries, petty disputes and everyday crises of the School, a darker undercurrent stirs. And a bitter grudge, hidden and carefully nurtured for fifteen years, is about to erupt. Who is “Mole”, the mysterious insider, whose cruel practical jokes are gradually escalating …? And how can an old and half-forgotten scandal become the stone that brings down a giant?” This is a partial quote of the plot of Joanne Harris’ novel, Gentlemen and Players, as described on her web page (http://www.joanne-harris.co.uk/), and what a story it is!


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