Five Quarters of the Orange
Framboise Dartigan has returned to her childhood home on the Loire in France. Her father had been killed in the war and at the age of nine, she, along with her older brother and sister, ran fairly wild around their home. Their mother, Mirabelle Dartigan, suffered from migraines, and Framboise knew how to exacerbate them.
Framboise is now a stony woman, hiding her softness the way her mother had. She too often sees her mother in herself. Although this distresses her, she can't change. She has to hide her identity in her old/new home. It relates to the happenings of 55 years earlier. She has started a home cooking restaurant that is very popular in the neighborhood, with a reputation that spreads into Paris.
Her nephew and niece-in-law are requesting recipes and information from her she doesn't want to release. She has a dreadful family secret that she wants to keep buried. But she also has her mother's album, which houses both the recipes and the information. As she deciphers Mirabelle's notes from their last year by the Loire, she understands even more of what happened during the War.
This novel jumps between the present and France in about 1943 or 1944. The Dartigan children innocently get involved with a German soldier, exchanging information for black market chocolates, magazines, cigarettes, and other items. One of Framboise' most cherished items is the fishing tackle she uses to try to catch Old Mother, the oldest pike in the river. In the present, the album is her prized possession.
This is a very uneven story. There were times, especially during the 1940s episodes, I would skip over pages and not miss anything. There were other times that I was intent on following the story. Although first story narrated, Framboise is a hard edged character throughout the book. At the end I still was unsatisfied with the overall story.
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