Posted 20 hours ago

Blackberry Wine: from Joanne Harris, the bestselling author of Chocolat, comes a tantalising, sensuous and magical novel which takes us back to the charming French village of Lansquenet

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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. His personal relationships are minimal, he hardly allows himself aspirations, avoiding any real work. In Lansquenet (also a setting for the Chocolat novels) he finds a split family with a mysterious rift.

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. and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television. 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).

Talismans against bullies, incantations against attack, even some sequences (perhaps) of astral travel. Jay goes on a journey of faith and self discovery, learning how to trust in himself and others, believe in magic and that anything is possible as he once did as a child. There is still magic and whimsy, but it is without the darkness of the controversy between magic and the church. Their mother, despite showing no real love for them their entire lives, covers up for them when she finds out.

permainos patinka ne visiems, o kiti gyventojai labiau norėtų išorinių permainų, kurios atneštų finansinę naudą. His ‘specials’ (the wine bottles) remind him of his childhood stays at his grandparents’ where he explored the northern landscapes and befriended an old man who was filled with tall tales and gardening tips. The story is carefully written, with elements which seem unrelated but then become clearly woven together in a satisfying way. Blackberry Wine is written as a piece of commercial fiction, but has definite elements of fantasy that feel out of place. 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.

Fortunately I have rather more to keep me grounded in the real world than Jay – living with an eight-year-old is a terrific antidote to living in the past – and I tried not to think too much about Chocolat as I was writing, knowing that all literary successes are heavily dogged by the curse of expectation. 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. It was the second novel I read by Joanne Harris, and I liked it sufficiently to look for her other work too. Interestingly I later found out that the American versions have a conventional third person narrator! Joseph "Jackapple Joe" Cox is the great influence of Jay's young life, a mysterious old man who lives alone.

He lives in London with his ambitious girlfriend, Kerry, and teaches creative writing to vapid young students whilst living on his dwindling reputation.A retired coal miner, he is knowledgeable about many things and claims to have travelled all over the world, although his accounts are not always reliable. It has its usual themes you will find in most Harris books: France, art, mothers and daughters, wine, cheese, fruit, plants, scents, tastes, atmospheric overloads, more descriptions than events, more impressions than actions, a very strong sense of place, travelling folk, issues with the church, issues with modernisation and gentrification, feminism, conservative mistrust of single mothers, estranged families, secrets and magic. Now Harris Magic is never really magic (except the Norse books and the fairy tales) but it's the kind of magic you can choose to believe is real but maybe it's also just the magic you find in the small things in life. Flashbacks reveal that Jay's only recollections of happiness are the golden summers he spent as a youth with old Joseph "Jackapple Joe" Cox in the small English town of Kirby Monckton.

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