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December 13th, 6:45pm: Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris

  • Pleasant Hill Library

    1750 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA (map)

    37.934643 -122.068550

  • When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous woman they hold responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation years ago. But the past and present are inextricably entwined, particularly in a scrapbook of recipes and memories that Framboise has inherited from her mother. And soon Framboise will realize that the journal also contains the key to the tragedy that indelibly marked that summer of her ninth year. . . In Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris returns to the small-town, postwar France of Chocolat. This time she follows the fortunes of Framboise Dartigan, named for a raspberry but with the disposition of, well, a lemon. The proprietor of a café in a rustic village, this crabby old lady recalls the days of her childhood, which coincided with the German occupation. Back then, she and her brother and sister traded on the black market with the Germans, developing a friendship with a charismatic young soldier named Tomas. This intrigue provided a distraction from their grim home life--their father was killed in the war and their mother was a secretive, troubled woman. Yet their relationship with Tomas led to a violent series of events that still torment the aging Framboise.

    Harris has a challenging project here: to show the complicated, messy reality behind such seemingly simple terms as collaborator and Resistance. To the children, of course, these were mere abstractions: "We understood so little of it. Least of all the Resistance, that fabulous quasi-organization. Books and the television made it sound so focused in later years; but I remember none of that. Instead I remember a mad scramble in which rumor chased counter-rumor and drunkards in cafes spoke loudly against the new regime." The author's portrait of occupier and occupied living side by side is given texture by her trademark appreciation of all things French. Yes, some passages read like romantic, black-and-white postcards: "Reine's bicycle was smaller and more elegant, with high handlebars and a leather saddle. There was a bicycle basket across the handlebars in which she carried a flask of chicory coffee." But these simple pleasures, recorded with such adroitness, are precisely what give Framboise solace from the torment of her past.

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  • Lauren

    Just finished the book and loved it!

    November 10

  • Elizabeth L.

    I never been in a book club , but like to read books . What book is the club reading now? I would like to attend the next meeting - it looks like no meeting for November right ? Looking forward to meeting all of you 😘

    October 24

    • Linda C.

      Hi Elizabeth - November's meeting was cancelled due to Election Day. Hope to see you in December!

      October 31

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  • Linda C.
    Organizer,
    Event Host

    Accounting professional who loves to cook, garden, shop, antique and read - read - read!... more

  • Carol +1
  • Jane B.

    My name is Jane Burnett, a retired high school teacher in Walnut Creek. One thing that has never... more

  • Elizabeth P.

    "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to... more

  • Vikki

    Hello! Recent transplant from Marin and looking for an East Bay Book club. Looking forward to... more

  • Joan

    Visiting my daughter for a year from Houston,Texas went to first book club meeting in September... more

  • Joani

    I just moved to the area from Phoenix ( to be close to kids & grandkids) I am an artist and... more

  • Wendy

    Hi, I'm Wendy, and a friend of Natalie's. I haven't been in a book club before either, but I'm... more

  • Lauren

    Look forward to meeting the group!

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