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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Five Quarters of the Orange: Press reviews
Joanne Harris
Five Quarters of the Orange - enjoyable but undemanding?
The national press review the new Joanne Harris novel, Five Quarters of the Orange


The Guardian

Just as she did in Chocolat, Harris indulges her love of rich and mouth-watering descriptive passages, appealing to the senses with seductively foreign names, and evoking the textures and smells of food.

These descriptions are suffused with a child's wide-eyed wonder that lends the story a magical quality, almost like a folk tale or a children's story.

Even having the Occupation as a backdrop, Harris does not approach large themes in the way that Amy Tan does; instead, she sets out to tell a story that proves, like her previous books, to be thoroughly enjoyable, if undemanding.


The Times

Vastly enjoyable and utterly gripping, Five Quarters of the Orange is a dark antithesis to Chocolat.

Where the latter blended sensual joy and fairytale optimism to celebrate the flesh, this novel describes the way in which taste and smell can become a torture; a means of corruption and destruction.

Harris is still acute when describing the life of a French village, but those who found Chocolat and Blackberry Wine too syrupy will find this novel more interesting. The magic rippling under the surface of the plot is genuinely fairytale because, and not in spite of, being fraught with evil.

Yet Harris is too kindly a writer to let her story end in tragedy. There is redemption, courage and love - perhaps too much to satisfy the highbrow reader, but still hard-won and worth having. Would that more modern novelists left us with such hope.

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