Friday, June 26, 2015

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

This book was a fun escape for me.  I found it when I was looking for Holy Fools by Joanne Harris, which had been recommended earlier...I'm not sure by whom.  When I read the review of Blackberry Wine, I realized it would be very much to my liking so I got it instead of Holy Fools, which I'm sure is also good.  I just was in the mood for what this particular book seemed to have to offer.

Joanne Harris also wrote Chocolat, which I have not read, but I have seen the movie.  There is a mystical element to Chocolat that is also in Blackberry Wine.  It is about a young man who is shuffled off to stay at his grandparents' home because his parents (not very loving & attentive to their son even in the best of times) are getting a divorce.  The grandparents are also somewhat uninvolved in the needs of a young boy, and are happy for him to take off on his bicycle most of the day and go exploring.  It's the 70s after all, and kids pretty much played outdoors till all hours.  After the initial stay, he returns each summer as well.  The boy, Jay, comes upon an old man who is working in his garden, and they slowly strike up a friendship.  As time passes, the two of them become important to one another, the old man, Joe becoming the needed father and grandfather to Jay that his own blood relatives are not.  With superstition and skill Joe not only grows fruits and vegetables, he makes preserves and wines and gifts them to his neighbors.  He has thousands of carefully collected seeds, all labelled.  He weaves stories about his travels across the world collecting the seeds.  He shows Jay the importance of and the beauty of nurturing life, and he weaves his magic around it all.  However, the homes in the little area near the town dump and the railroad tracks where Joe lives is scheduled to be destroyed for development.  Things are beginning to change.  And then one day, Joe is gone.  The abandonment is something Jay feels very deeply.  When he grows up, he writes a novel called Jackapple Joe, which is loosely about his old friend. The book is a best seller, but Jay is never able to write anything of any substance after that one book.  There are unresolved issues that lead him back to the area where he met Joe, and eventually causes him to buy a French chateau in the wine country.  He buys the property and goes to it, on impulse, though he isn't sure why.  The story that develops from his move to the French chateau is one filled with resolution of his deep-seated issues, and the magic of discovery.  It is a delightful tale, with a healthy touch of mysticism and fantasy...considered by some a modern fairytale for grown-ups.  The book reminded me a little also of Under the Tuscan Sun, as well as the movie Chocolat.  I really enjoyed it. 


6 comments:

  1. Seems like a wonderful read, nice review!

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  2. I will have to put that on my request list at the library. Sounds very good.

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  3. As I was reading the review I was wondering to myself, 'who read this book'? And, lo and behold, it was you, Marie. It sounds good. Maybe somewhere down the line I will get a chance to crack it's covers.

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  4. Another good book to read! I started reading China Dolls. After the first chapter, I knew I was going to like it!

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  5. Just ordered this book from Abe Books. Thanks for the letting me know about this site. Cheap prices, free shipping and no tax. Wow! Looking forward to reading after China Dolls.

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  6. Thanks for all the comments! Anne, I am so glad you checked out Abebooks and are enjoying it. It's such a great resource! I look forward to your review of Blackberry Wine when you're done!

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