Thursday, September 6, 2012

Five Quarters of the Orange 

by Joanne Harris

The ladies of the Hattie’s daytime book club had a very lively discussion about Joanne Harris’s book Five Quarters of the Orange. The book is the dark and depressing story of the Dartigen family living in the Loire River Valley in WWII during the German occupation. Fifty plus years later, Framboise Simon nee Dartigen returns to the burned out family home where she hopes for a new beginning. Her mother, Mirabelle, is still held responsible by the villagers for the terrible tragedy that took place during the war. Returning as a widow with her mother’s recipe book, Framboise restores the old homestead and opens a restaurant, setting a course that will reopen the past. 

The book discussion elicited comments such as “this family is so dysfunctional that they make mine seem normal,” “this should have been a short story,” and “evil, evil child.” Family, friends, acquaintances and country are all betrayed for such little gain. We also saw the price of drug addiction and the death of innocence. We didn’t like any of the characters and two members said this is the first book club read they didn’t finish. For me, it was a very emotional book and I had to stop and start many times. Everyone found the book to be well written but only one person said that they would recommend this book to others.

Was reading this book a waste of time? Personally I didn’t think so. This book, though not memorable, did shed some light on how a village coped during an alien occupation and asked the question would our town act the same. 
submitted by daytime club member Diane Vaughn

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