2018 Reading Challenge fruit or vegetable in the titleI m a huge Harris fan, but somehow this is the first of her novels I ve read with a main male protagonist I don t typically gravitate to these types of books RTC but I loved this as much as any of her other books She s a beautiful storyteller 9 , My first novel by the author of Chocolat and I have to say I enjoyed it far than expected.The story of Jay Mackintosh, a 37 years old writer, famous because of an only novel written fifteen years ago Jay seems to have lost inspiration and faith in the magic of life, as if all these feelings had been spent in that successful novel.The novel moves forward and backwards in time, and the reader is able to know young Jay, when he meets Joe, an eccentric old man who leaves a deep impression in lonely Jay, becoming his special friend and his secret hideaway.Home brewed wine made by Joe takes unusual importance in the present time of the story, because it s only when Jay drinks it that he finds the courage to change what makes him unhappy Guided by a kind of Joe s ghost, Jay leaves London and moves to a little rural village in France where he buys an abandoned farm and where he starts writing again, inspired by his mysterious neighbour, Marisa.This is a book about haunted lives, unfinished stories and the chance to change your own life and atone for your past mistakes.Magic, wine, faith or simply luck and coincidence Choose your own explanation.I ll stick to the magic and a bit of luck, as Jay says.It s only a matter of not losing hope completely and let others surprise you, with one foot in the Earth and the other one suspended in the air, letting the wind blow where it has to.Refreshing, heartening and uplifting reading Great for dreamers and romantics. I loved this story, or maybe I should say, I was in love with this story, I was in love with Joe and his eccentric ways I loved the gardening, the wine making, the magic I was in love with the bond of love between old man Joe and young man Jay This is a book about the young man growing into maturity, into a man who can love a woman and a child and protect what he values Growing into a man who can accept the weaknesses and mistakes of others, accept those same things in himself, and figure out how to make things better It is about an old man passing on his skills and dreams to the next generation It is about the value of the past to the creation of the future respect and love for the land and diversity of species Although the story has many fantastical elements the only thing that struck a somewhat odd note for me was Marise s past Lovely woman, but than her share of conveniently dead in her life and rather iffy taste in men, although let s hope that we are looking at a brighter future for her Truly, I just loved this book For me, it was better than Chocolat and better than Five Quarters of an Orange I don t drink wine but I related absolutely to the wine in this story to the stories it tells, to the stories it releases Sometimes I want to hug a book This is one of those books I haven t yet looked to see how others liked this book, but I recommend it. Blackberry Wine 1999 Five Quarters of the Orange 2001 by Joanne Harris Finished Reading August 2015 Rating 2 5 3 5 I read Harris Five Quarters of the Orange Blackberry Wine back to back, so I shall be reviewing them together They are very similar, actually a little too much Both feature lead female protagonists that have strong, proud, independent, walled away personalities, unwilling to accept, let alone ask, others for any sort of assistance In both, they are not the lead character, but as the focus of the protagonist, they are as, if not , important In Five Quarters of the Orange, this bold female character is Mirabelle Dartigen, the mother of present day narrator Framboise Simon In Blackberry Wine, Marise d Api is the strong female lead, writer Jay Mackintosh s unfriendly, closed off, and mysterious neighbor Like in all Harris novels the singular touch that ensures my return interest in her novels both novels contain a food that serves as a saving elixir and the irreplaceable addition of magic and whimsy The former uses an orange, the scent of which inexplicably increases Mirabelle s anxiety spells for some time, admist verbal and sometimes physical abuse from her, Framboise surreptitiously leaves orange peels to seep through the ventilation so as to earn a reprieve In the latter, the elixir is fruit based wine, specifically a set of vintage 75s, which Jay Mackintosh finds in the remains of Pog Hill decades ago when he returns the summer following his unannounced disappearance.Five Quarters of the Orange tells a multi generational story with lies, secrets, family database, but with redemption, love, healing, and perseverance shining throughout Framboise, having had a tenuous relationship with her less than ideal mother abusive, actually all her life, she is surprised to uncover redeeming secrets written in code in a beloved cookbook that belonged to her Her childhood took place during the Nazi occupation, causing than typical difficulties in her young years Along with her siblings Cassis Reinette, they begin associating with a German Officer named Leibwitz For varying reasons, each idolizes, to the point of compromising their integrity by becoming informants, providing information Leibwitz utilizes to blackmail their neighbors They rationalize this by convincing themselves as well as each other that this is harmless it is only words, after all, and it isn t like the Germans are murdering anyone Although one evening there is one somewhat accidental related death Framboise falls the most for Liebwitz By, in fact, actually falling in love with him Which leads to the event that has remained hidden for years, decades, in the family The event that changed each of their lives forever When he tells young Framboise that he can no longer see her, likely ever again, she cries, imploring that this not be so When he refuses her pleas, she desperately convinces him to swim out to a dangerous area of the lake, simply to spend time with him He is caught in a root underwater and drowns The three of them, Cassis, Reinette, and Framboise, surreptitiously make the body disappear, and never discuss the incident again Their mother, despite showing no real love for them their entire lives, covers up for them when she finds out They never know until present day that she even knew.All these events lead to the entire city shunning the family, and following one situation too many, they flee in separate directions, barely in time escaping death by the neighbors wrath and need to designate a scapegoat Of course, there is also the love aspect, a childhood friend, Paul, whom she eventually lets in Together they learn to heal If not forget, but to accept the past, their indivual secrets, and Framboise finally makes amends with her mother.Blackberry Wine I liked far less Jay honestly seemed like an immature adult, left in the past Worse yet, he is aware of it, yet quite nonchalant to the idea of changing His personal relationships are minimal, he hardly allows himself aspirations, avoiding any real work Honestly, none of the other main characters were that much better His love interest, Marie A pi, is a negative, closed off person for most of the novel The ghost of Joe is lovable, but honestly his presence was perplexing I am typically a fan of magical realism, but the ghosts spirituality aspect was not smoothly embedded into the story it definitely stood out, causing the reading to seem off kilter Kerry, his initial love interest, was written like a bitch, clear and simple All the other characters in the new town, neighbors to Jay, were not very deeply explored Relatives to Marise similar to the neighbors in Five Quarters of an Orange were cold and unwilling to be understanding, believing only what they want to believe.The only character that was well written for me was his childhood friend during his Pog Hills days Gilly was courageous, spunky, and had a spirit that was lovable rather than unattractive Marise s daughter, whom Jay initially mistakes for her, comes close to bringing back the spirit In all, two fun reads, but I am still searching for a book from Harris in which the depth and overall significance of her words and stories match the way she has perfected the tone of magic and whimsy. Nothing evokes memories like scents and Joanne Harris is a master of descriptive prose that will bring memories flooding back.The senses are further brought into play with the sounds of the 70s nailed and remembered The best times of my life childhood memories were exactly depicted in this wonderful story narrated by a bottle of fleurie wine and the 6 specials which are filled with magic Lansquenet the little french village of Chocolat fame is the setting for this book too along with some characters recognized from their also The main characters are Joe an eccentric old man who brews wine, gardens, makes pouches of herbs that protect against bullies layman s alchemy he calls it and Jay a young lad who admires Joe and learns much of life from him the story follows Jay into adulthood in alternating chapters.If you want reminding of long hot summers, best friends and bike rides when we used to see magic in everyday things then treat yourself to Blackberry Wine.ps Today I was getting my last bits for Christmas and standing alone on the shelf a bottle of Fleurie Karma Layman s alchemy magic Ohhhh I really hope so. The first time I tried to read Blackberry Wine apparently wasn t the right time to try to read this book This time, though, I read it practically all in one go with, yeah, a glass of wine Joanne Harris prose is always easy to read, really clear, and I can believe in the characters she creates at least enough to carry on to the very last page Joe, in particular, rang true with me a miner s son, a gardener, a Yorkshire lad Jay, perhaps not as much, particularly not at the beginning, but yes, enough that I cared what happened to him.I love the everyday magic that Joanne Harris characters work Just normal enough that you can believe it s true for a while Just close enough to coincidence or wishful thinking that if you can t step over into fantasy, you don t have to.I don t think I m likely to reread any of Joanne Harris books I guess to me they re a bit like chocolate, or a bottle of wine You can only have the experience once But I do greatly enjoy them, and will be sad when there are no that I can read. This is a beautiful book, written by the author who later wrote Chocolat Blackberry Wine takes place in both England and the same small French town that is the setting for Chocolat.Blackberry Wine tells the story of Jay, who as a boy, meets an eccentric man named Joe, who opens Jay s world to gardening and magic and homemade wine As an adult and established author, Jay escapes his stifling life in England by buying a small cottage in Lansquenet, France, where he not only becomes a gardener, but writes another book, solves a mystery when he falls in love with a local woman scorned by most of the town, babysits this woman s daughter and goat, and is visited by the ghost of the late Joe, as well as an old girlfriend from London, who, unfortunately for Jay, is alive and still controlling and vicious.Beautiful book I felt like I was tasting the words while I was reading. Jay Mackintosh Is Trapped By Memory In The Old Familiar Landscape Of His Childhood, Enticing Than The Present, And To Which He Longs To Return A Bottle Of Home Brewed Wine Left To Him By A Long Vanished Friend Seems To Provide Both The Key To An Old Mystery And A Doorway Into Another World As The Unusual Properties Of The Strange Brew Takes Effect, Jay Escapes To A Derelict Farmhouse In The French Village Of Lansquenet , Where A Ghost From The Past Waits To Confront Him, And The Reclusive Marise Haunted, Lovely, And Dangerous Hides A Terrible Secret Behind Her Closed Shuters Between Them, A Mysterious Chemistry Or Could It Be Magic I prefer tea.I have mixed feelings about Blackberry Wine, unfortunately negative than positive For the first ten chapters I despised this book I didn t care about the characters, couldn t care about the plot and wanted nothing than to just get through the thing so I could move on to another story Even though the chapters are short, fifty seven pages is than I want to wait for a story to get interesting.Blackberry Wine describes the life of Jay, a one hit wonder in the literary arena who fell victim to the freshman curse and now lives as a writer of trashy sci fi novels and part time fantasy conference attendee One day he impulsively buys a farmhouse in France that brings back childhood memories and moves in, hoping to find what he thinks he s lost Via astral projection, his friend mentor Joe, visits the farmhouse to continue giving the advice he started in Jay s youth Jay the adult reverts back to the child he was time and again in his bitterness at being abandoned by the old man s sudden parting, continuing the legacy Blackberry Wine is written as a piece of commercial fiction, but has definite elements of fantasy that feel out of place This inconsistent tone added to my discomfort.One of the reasons I had trouble with this book is because of the way Jay is written Personally, I thought he was schizophrenic, but I don t think that was the author s intention He seems like an intelligent person, but has the insight of a fifteen year old boy coupled with a dog s manic need to defend his territory or in this case, Jay s righteous indignation Jay s lack of maturity and poor decision making ability mark him as a victim, a martyr, so I had trouble caring about him.This book jumps back and forth in time about every other chapter which I found distracting The copious descriptions were a bit much and repetitive how many times did I have to hear about the canal, or that something was yeasty an odd word to be given such prominence And don t get me started on the magically animated bottles of wine.On the upside, once the story warmed up it was engaging Jay s garden renovation and the relationship with his neighbor and her daughter were nice, the practical peculiarities of Joe added color and interest and the French townspeople formed a nice backdrop All in all I thought Blackberry Wine was flawed, but it did have moments.
Joanne Harris is an Anglo French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN , and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre pr
- 368 pages
- Blackberry Wine
- Joanne Harris
- 22 March 2019 Joanne Harris