Five Quarters of the Orange
Framboise returns to the village of her youth as an old woman, unrecognizable because of her age and using a different first name along with her married name. None of the villagers connect her, a 65 year old widow, respectable though peculiar, with the skinny kid that was run out of the village with her mother and two siblings some fifty years prior. She's Mirabelle Dartigen's daughter. . . if they only knew.
In her return "home" Boise must face the past and sort out what happened to her enigmatic mother. The album, with it's clippings and cryptic writing, leads her to discoveries about her mother that shock her and change her whole view of who her mother was.
At the same time, Boise relives her own life, especially that pivotal summer. This, side by side with her discoveries from the album, form a full picture of what did happen, answer some of her questions and give the reader a story told in patchwork that, when fit together, makes a lovely quilt of story.
The story is told in the first person, going back and forth from Boise's childhood to her current struggle with first the village and then her relatives. It transitions smoothly, the story is firm and real--and like the oranges that play such a crucial role, the scent of the story lingers for some time after the reading.
The main plot was a well-used one, and as such disappointed me a bit. Harris managed to make up for that, though, with her style which kept me intrigued even during the most obvious bits. Over all the novel was a good one and I look forward to reading for her other two novels.
(Originally read/reviewed in 2005.)