Posted on Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 at 7:45 pm under Fiction

Title: Five Quarters of the Orange
Author: Joanne Harris
Genre: Fiction

Why I liked this book:
I like books with quirky characters and twisty plots. I also like stories that explore the natural world and stories about the culinary arts. This book has it all: suspense, war, superstition, love, betrayal and a great fishing tale to boot.

The setting is a small rural town on the Loire River in France. Frambois Simon returns to her childhood home town as an old woman to open a restaurant in the old family homestead. She tells us of the events of her childhood in her eighth summer that led to a great tragedy in the village.

As a child, Frambois has difficulty with family relationships, especially with her moody mother who suffers from migraines. She has an even stranger relationship with a legendary pike (as in fish) named “Old Mother” who lives in the nearby river. Frambois is also infatuated with a young Nazi officer stationed in her village during the occupation. He is both a father figure and the target of her puppy love. Frambois and her siblings feed information about the local villagers to the Germans in exchange for trinkets and oranges.

The story revolves around Frambois’ struggle with the moral issues surrounding her relationships and her daily pursuit of the ancient pike. Suspense and mystery abound as events spin out of her control. Throw in her mother’s scrapbook/diary filled with old family recipes and cryptic clues about the town tragedy, you really have a great recipe for a great read.

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