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Five Quarters of the Orange
by Joanne Harris

Ms. Harris returns, once again, to the life of a provincial French town, rich with an ominous past and burdened by economic strife caused by one family's struggle to reconcile one woman's gastronomic legacy.

Bouncing between the narrator's childhood during the Nazi Occupation and her disguised, present day glory as a creperie owner, the reader is whisked along a trajectory spanning emotional abuse, loss, and ultimate reconciliation.

Ms. Harris is adept at instilling an atmosphere of terrible secrets, harbored personal guilt, and a town's unforgiving dread early in the novel, but allows the mood to slip into banal exposition as her sense of narrative voice and shallow characterizations fail to realize the full weight of their individual roles.

Her canvas is primed to display a fabulous depiction of childhood mischief unraveling during murderous times with horrible implications, of an innocence that by its very nature can not claim to be innocent, but her colorful symbolism fails to realize anything but the most disappointing thumb nail sketch of horror or tragic drama.

Ms. Harris defangs the enemy in a shallow attempt to humanize the oppressing Nazis and thereby rips apart the very stitching which held together her narrative fabric.

Surely fans of Ms. Harris' other superior novels may enjoy this novel, but as an introduction to her work, readers should look elsewhere.

Reviewed by J. Piché



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