On page 7 of 'Five Quarters of the Orange' the main character, Framboise Dartigen, tells us 'I know what you're thinking. You wish I'd get on with the story . . . ' and by golly she was RIGHT. I had JUST been thinking that - the first seven pages had moved slowly for me you see, and I was growing restless. Joanne Harris, author of said book, evidently has a sharp eye for what her readers are going through at any given point. In light of her honesty I decided to settle down and see what lay ahead.
I was glad I did. The book unwinds entirely from the perspective of Framboise, both current day (when she's in her 60's) and during World War II when she's 9. Framboise gives us a taste of her childhood, growing up in a small town in France during the German occupation, raised with her older brother and sister by a single mother. We also follow her through modern day while she's refurbishing and breathing new life into her abandoned childhood home, trying to keep her identity a secret from the town's current residents. It's the tantalizing secret behind Framboise's desire for anonymity and the unveiling of her mother's troubled personality through the diary she left behind, that kept me turning the pages.
Harris also does an excellent job describing aspects of Framboise's surroundings and cooking, so much so that you can almost taste and smell her culinary creations or feel the heat of a dry summer.
This is a book to be savored, take time to enjoy the world Harris creates while on your way to discovering answers to the book's mysteries.
'Five Quarters of the Orange' has a satisfying, I would even say romantic ending - which as I may have mentioned previously, is something I'm pretty partial to (at least the satisfying part). Not that it doesn't have its elements of tragedy and sadness, but in the end very well wrapped up. Also noteworthy, a pretty clean read. On my official 'Clean-o-Meter', with 1 = to 'so clean you could refer it to respected aged relatives without worry' and 10 = to 'read at your OWN risk - and you didn't hear about it from me', I'd give it a 3. One or two usages of adult language, and some adult subject matter, which is more alluded to rather than detailed in grisly language.
A last word of advice - if you choose this read for your book club, do try and follow Caisse's excellent example and include a lovely large bar of Lindt's 'dark chocolate orange intense' as one of your book-inspired-favors for your fellow readers, they will think of you with kind, complimentary thoughts for weeks after.