Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

  • Ek weet nou nie of almal wat hier is ma’s (of maens soos die kinders sê) is nie, maar almal van ons is bepaald dogters. Dit is dan my voorreg vandag om hierdie besondere boek oor “maens” en dogters te bespreek.
  • Uitspraak van name
  • Iets oor die skrywer self


Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire on July 3, 1964, her mother is French, her father English.  She was educated at Wakefield Girls’ High and Barnsley Sixth Form College, and then read Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Saint Catharine’s College, Cambridge.  After a number of heroic career failures (rock musician, herbalist, accountant) she succumbed to genetic pressure and became a French teacher for 12 years at a boys’ grammar school in Leeds, and later taught a French Literature course at Sheffield University.

Her first novel, The Evil Seed, was published in 1989, although she strongly advises against reading it.  Since then she has written Sleep, Pale Sister (1993); Chocolat (1999); Blackberry Wine (2000); Five Quarters of the Orange (2001), Coastliners (2002), Holy Fools (2003), Jigs and Reels (2004), Gentlemen and Players (2006), and a cookbook-memoir My French Kitchen (2002).  Her books have been published in 40 countries and have won a number of British and international awards.  The Lollipop Shoes is pas twee weke gelede bekend gestel.

She was awarded an honorary D.Lit (Doctor of Letters) by the University of Huddersfield in 2003 and also by the University of Sheffield in 2004.

Her hobbies include “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system, although she also enjoys obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits. She is not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving exotic travel, champagne or yellow diamonds from Graff. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse and lives with her husband Kevin and her daughter Anouchka, about 15 miles from the place she was born.”

Tydens onderhoude het sy die volgende oor haar boeke gesê:

Why do food and drink play such a major role in your books?

I think tastes and smells are particularly evocative to us because as newborns we first experience the world through those two senses. That means that our emotional response to a taste or a smell (think of Proust and his lime-blossom tisane) can act upon us at a very powerful, subconscious level. This is also true in literature, folk tale and mythology, where food and drink have played an important symbolic role for centuries. In more recent literature, such references provide a handy means of reflecting different cultures and distant places. It’s also a very useful indicator of personality. Eating habits provide us with an insight into a person’s background, character, family and upbringing, as well as their general attitude to life and to other people. Besides, readers understand food; in our increasingly diverse and multicultural society, eating remains one of the very few experiences we all have in common; a pleasure, a comfort and a means of expression.

Does it get harder to write when previous novels (such as Chocolat) have met with such success?

Not really; I don’t measure success by what the critics say, or by the number of copies sold (though I have been fortunate in that area), or by how many film options have been taken up. First and foremost I write for my own satisfaction, and I think I’m grounded enough to have retained a fairly lively sense of self-criticism. My readers are very loyal, too; and I think they understand that I have to keep taking risks in order to grow – the safe option has never held much appeal to me.

How do you develop your ideas for new books?

My stories are most often character-based, so I usually begin with a character or two. I don’t approach my novels with any specific point or issue in mind; I don’t believe in preaching, and I prefer the reader to draw his or her own conclusions rather than impose my own ideas. With a new book, I don’t usually begin writing straightaway; instead I play with the idea for a few months (or longer) until the time seems right to begin. I often work on several things at a time, depending on my moods; it isn’t unusual for me to work for six months on one book, then start something else for another four, before finishing my original story. I have been known to leave a book unfinished for years at a time before returning to it, although most things do get finished in the end.

How and when did you start writing?

I’ve always written. As a child and an adolescent I began by copying the writers I most admired, then I began slowly to find my own style. It took awhile, but eventually it began to emerge when I was in my twenties, although it wasn’t until very recently that I felt confident enough to take the plunge and try to make a living from writing books.

How long does it take to write a book? How many drafts do you need to write?

On average it takes me about a year, and between three and five drafts. It depends; some books take longer and are more difficult to write.

Do you plan your books before you begin?

I sometimes think I ought to plan more carefully, but most of the time I begin with a vague idea and work it out as I go. Nou hierdie boek se ‘uitdink’ was regtig baie besonders. Die storielyn het my die hele tyd aangegryp, en ek het baie dinge verwag van die einde, maar nie haar einde nie. Sometimes I know the ending, but have no idea how to get there. I have to have the narrator’s voice before I start, otherwise I don’t do much advance planning – it’s more fun this way!

Among the books you have written, which is your favourite?

I think it’s Five Quarters of the Orange, mostly because of Framboise, the main character. She was such fun to write, and I enjoyed her voice so much; that stroppy we’ll-do-it-my-way-or-not-at-all manner of hers. I liked writing as an old person, too, because there are so few of them in fiction, and because they so infrequently have interesting roles to play. I wanted to challenge that general feeling that old people don’t feel passions, that old people can’t fall in love, that old people are patient, wise and resigned to their eventual fate. Framboise is anything but those things: she isn’t always easy, but she’s very tough and although she has experienced some terrible things, she has never lost her sense of herself. I got the chance to write about her as a child, too; but she is an odd, savage, self-contained child, very different to most depictions of children in literature. I like drawing imperfect characters because I find them more interesting; Framboise has many faults, and she is conscious of them, but I like her anyway, and I’m glad I could think of a happy ending for her that I could believe in.

How are your books received in France?

Pretty well now, although the French were reluctant to publish at all in the early days. I think originally there was some mistrust of me because I have an English name, and I was presuming to write about their country. Is dit nou nie weer tipies van die Franse nie! My first offer, from a very large French company, was conditional on my writing under a French nom-de-plume; I refused, and eventually went with a much smaller publisher, Table Ronde, which deals in mostly academic texts. I’m happy to be in print at all over there; at least this means my non-English-speaking family can read my books now! Word ʼn profeet ooit in sy eie land geëer?

Uit haar erkennings is dit duidelik dat Joanne Harris probleme gehad het om hierdie ‘donker’ werk van haar by haar uitgewer verby te kry. Hulle het uitgesien na ʼn sensuele opvolg van die gewilde Chocolat. (Daar is baie vereenvoudig en ook verander aan die fliek)

Framboise Dartigen, die verteller, is die plein jongste dogter van ʼn oorlogsweduwee in Les Laveuses in besette Frankryk, tydens die tweede wêreldoorlog. Sy keer terug as volwasse vrou, onder die naam Francoise Simon, en koop haar ma se vervalle plaas met die afgebrande huis. Sy restoureer die plek en begin ʼn creperie – pannekoekplek, met die naam Crepe Framboise. Ironies, die naam. Sy het twee dinge van haar ma geërf, ʼn enorme ingelegde truffel, en haar ma se joernaal/resepteboek.

Die storie wissel tussen haar lewe as nege-jarige kind en die huidige. Sy is ʼn vreemde kind om die minste te sê, die jongste van drie, maar ook die vindingrykste. Haar suster Reinette-Claude is ʼn tipiese meisie wat hou van mooimaak. Cassis, die oudste, het nie Framboise se waagmoed nie. Framboise ontwikkel ʼn obsessie met ʼn Nazi soldaat, Tomas Leibzig, wat ʼn verhouding met al drie kinders het, en vir hulle allerhande geskenke aandra in ruil vir inligting. Die kinders voel nie sleg omdat hulle mense ‘verraai’ nie, hulle gee net inligting oor mense wat hulle nie ken nie, of in die naburige dorp Anger. Dit word ook gesuggereer dat Tomas nie die inligting regtig gebruik nie, dat dit vir hom net ʼn speletjie is. Wat dink julle van die kinders se betrokkenheid by Tomas? En van sy kant af?

Dis eers amper aan die einde van die boek wat mens besef dat Mirabelle ook ʼn verhouding met Tomas gehad het.

Dis eers met herlees wat die boek vir my sin gemaak het. Dan tref dinge jou, dat die volwasse Framboise baie soos haar ma is, soos sy self erken, toe sy aan haar nefie, Yannick dink: “That’s my mother in me, the dislike of conventions, of false intimacies. I don’t like to be touched and simpered over. I don’t see why the blood we share should tie us in affection. Or the secret of spilled blood we hid for so long between us.” P16

As Francoise in haar creperie word sy ontdek deur ʼn kosskrywer van ʼn tydskrif. Op hierdie manier spoor haar broer se seun, Yannick en sy vrou Laure haar op. Hulle wil baie graag Mirabelle se resepte vir hulle restaurant gebruik, maar Francoise/Framboise weier.

Die kinders het groot geword met wat genoem is hulle ma se ‘bad spells’. Die eerste keer wat Framboise dit beleef het, het sy gedink haar ma gaan dood, maar haar pa het verduidelik wat aangaan. Sy het die allervreeslikste migraine gekry, waartydens sy so deurmekaar geword het van pyn dat sy dinge bv dinge gebreek het, en ook een keer haar man aangeval het, en agterna kon sy niks onthou wat gebeur het nie. Kort daarna het haar man gesterf. Sy het een keer vir Reinette, wat haar gunsteling was, totaal onnodig ʼn vreeslike pak slae gegee, en net aangegaan asof niks gebeur het nie. P190

Mirabelle was geweldig krities op Framboise, dit was asof sy al haar woede op haar jongste uitgehaal het, wat haar koppig verset het. Sy was selfs krities op haar voorkoms, Next to her (Reine-Claude) I looked like a frog, an ugly , skinny little frog, with my wide sullen mouth and my big hans and feet. (P63) Ek kon die hele tyd die toutrekkery in die boek aanvoel. Framboise het haar ma regtig op elke moontlike manier getart, sy was ʼn moedswillige kind! P64 Maar met so ʼn ma sou ek ook seker wees. Sy noem Framboise Idiot en dit terwyl sy vir haar ma kyk en wonder wat sy sou doen as sy haar ʼn drukkie gee. Dit was net nadat Framboise die sakkie met lemoenskil in haar ma se kussing weggesteek het. Ek kan maar net dink wat sy moes gedink het toe haar ma haar daarna Idiot noem.

Framboise regverdig die lemoenskil wat sy gebruik om haar ma se migraines aan te help, op p193. I used the orange bag often. Terrified that my mother might discover the trick, I still couldn’t stop myself. Only when she took her pills was she quiet, and she only took them when she smelled oranges.

Selfs toe Framboise die eerste keer begin menstrueer, het sy nie met haar ma daaroor gepraat nie, maar gedink dis die ‘sleg’ in haar wat uitkom, en haar ma het ook net gepraat van ‘the curse’. Slegs een keer (p197) was haar ma gaaf met haar, en het sy gevra dat hulle moet fliek toe gaan, maar Framboise was so verskrik, dat sy nie gereageer het nie en die oomblik was verby. Framboise het triomfantlik gevoel, At last, in our long, bitter game I had scored a point. Sy sien dus haar verhouding met haar ma as ʼn ‘spel’

Framboise ontmoet Tomas Leibniz langs die viswaters, waar sy Old Mother probeer vang. Hy noem haar Backfish. Die legende? is dat as Old Mother (vreeslike groot vis) in jou oë kyk, jy of iemand na aan jou sal doodgaan. As jy haar vang, sal enige wens waar word. Sy vang dan ook teen die einde van die boek vir Old Mother, en wens, Tomas for ever. Framboise se selfopgelegde obsessie om Old Mother te vang lei na ʼn vreeslike tragedie, wat ʼn hele kettingreaksie aan die gang sit. Wie het nog nie die boek gelees nie? Gaan julle hom lees? Moet ons verder praat oor wat daar gebeur het?

Dit is eers as volwasse Francoise, wat met behulp van Paul, haar jeugvriend, wat hulle haar joernaal bestudeer, wat sy bewus raak van die roll wat pille in haar lewe gespeel het, en hoe sy gesukkel het om dit in die hande te kry. Dit is ook eers daar wat Framboise besef het dat haar ma ook ʼn soort verhouding met Tomas gehad het.

Dit is ook toe wat Framboise voor die keuse te staan gekom het om met die waarheid uit te kom. Soos sy sê op P295, No-one should have to choose between a life and a lie. And yet she had, Mirabelle Dartigen.

Mirabelle het die lewe gekies, maar vir baie jare het Framboise die leuen gekies. Aan die einde het sy ʼn koerant, vir Laure, en haar dogters gebel.  Hoe sien julle hierdie bekentenis van haar?

As kritiek op die boek sou ek sê dat Framboise se taalgebruik, as verteller, soms bo die vuurmaakplek was van ʼn nege-jarige. P123

Die enigste kritiek wat ek in resensies kon raakloop, was dat Kirkus Reviews gesê het:
An overwrought and often contrived tale with one too many characters named after food…. Harris (Chocolat, 1999) is capable of elegantly sensual writing, but Five Quarters degenerates into melodrama all too soon.

Titel: P218

But what’s this about oranges? Five quarters? Well, that’s Harris being brilliant. But five quarters? There is no such thing – there we have the logic of children: split an orange five ways and what do you get? Five quarters. It’s a subtle reference to the children’s logic and rationale: they’ll only tell the Nazis about people in Anger, they’ll only tell them about people they don’t know. After all nothing bad will happen to them – they’ll just have their contraband taken away – a redistribution of wealth, it’s only fair right? Cassis believes they are merely doing what Robin Hood would do.

Vir my was die vyfde kwart, die simbool van die sluheid, geslepenheid en wreedheid van Framboise teenoor haar ma, waarop die hele boek baseer is. Dit is daardie kwart wat sy gebruik het om haar ma se migraines aan te help, wat uiteindelik haar ma se hele lewe vernietig het, omdat sy nie kon onthou wat sy gedoen het, of nie gedoen het nie.

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