Posts Tagged With: tragedy

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

five-quarters-of-the-orange

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets memory play strange games. Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Framboise’s nephew – a profiteering Parisian – attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes she has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers of Les Laveuses. As the spilt blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past. Joanne Harris has looked behind the drawn shutters of occupied France to illuminate the pain, delight and loss of a life changed for ever by the uncertainties and betrayals of war.

What a lovely book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it hard to put down. There is so much that can said about it. It is full of intriguing recipes, which might be worth trying out. Harris looks into many issues, including love, childhood, death, war, secrets, family and mental illness, yet none of it is so daunting it is a hard read. All are dealt with well and sensitively, and add depth to the book.

There is action all the way through the book, right up to the last page. The descriptions were so thorough I felt like I was there with Framboise.  The narrative does jump around from childhood to middle age and back to childhood again, however this did not bother me at all, I felt it fitted right in with the story.

My favourite character has to be Paul, slow Paul who actually is quite a sly dog, I loved him and found myself growing very fond of him. As the book progressed on and we delve more into the recipe book I felt more and more sorry for the Mother, a misunderstood and ill lady. I think Harris wrote her wonderfully.

The only complaints I can think of were there were a lot of characters with similar names, and I forgot who was who, and there was also some writing in French and German that I didn’t understand which wasn’t translated. Apart from that, this is a superb book.

9/10

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The Hour I First Believed – Wally Lamb

Amazon Synopsis
From the author of the international number one bestseller I Know This Much is True comes a magnificent novel which explores the consequence of violent events, and the chaos that ensues, for human lives blown irrevocably of course Caelum Quirk and his wife Maureen move to Colorado and find jobs at Columbine High School. One day in April 1999, when Caelum is called away by a family emergency, Maureen cowers in a cupboard in the school library, hiding from two students on a murderous rampage. Though miraculously she survives, Maureen cannot recover from the trauma. Seeking solace, the couple returns to Connecticut to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family farm. As Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of forgotten memorabilia spanning five generations of his family. As he painstakingly reconstructs the lives of his ancestors, he must confront their secrets and fashion a future from the ashes of his own tragedy. His personal quest for meaning becomes a mythic journey that is both contemporary and quintessentially American.

My Thoughts

This is the first book of Lamb’s that I’ve read and I was gripped from the very beginning. I’ll definitely be looking out for more by him. I loved the way he mixed fiction with non-fiction, without trivialising the awful events that took place during the high school massacre. He explores so many topics; war, slavery, spiritualism and family history, yet it all melds together into a compelling journey of one family and their struggle to make sense of this world and their lives. The massacre does form the main basis of this novel, but it’s so much more too. We hear about the effects it has on everyone involved, even those who seem to have been on the sidelines of the tragedy. I found this book to be heartbreaking; it made me laugh, cry and cringe in horror, yet Lamb still managed to maintain a sense of hope for our futures.  The message is that we must work together to prevent tragedies like this happening again. In fact, at the back of Lamb’s book are links to several charities that are working towards these very aims.

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