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Description - Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

Jay Mackintosh is trapped by memory in the old familiar landscape of his childhood, to which he longs to return. A bottle of home-brewed wine left to him by a long-vanished friend seems to provide the key to an old mystery. As the unusual properties of the strange brew take effect, Jay escapes to a derelict farmhouse in the French village of Lansquenet. There, a ghost from the past waits to confront him, and the reclusive Marise - haunted, lovely and dangerous - hides a terrible secret behind her closed shutters. Between them, a mysterious chemistry. Or could it be magic?

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780552998000
ISBN-10: 0552998001
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 127mm x 21mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: Black Swan
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 2-Apr-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

UK Kirkus Review » Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat - shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Prize) can make the most cynical reader believe in magic. She can seduce you with flavours, bemuse you with words (if you don't believe me, just read the first few sentences of this new novel.) Jay Mackintosh's story oscillates between 1970s boyhood summers in a small, dying Yorkshire pit-village and late 1990s life in a village in southern France (which readers of Chocolat will instantly recognize). Jay is a novelist with a dwindling love-affair and, after one bestselling novel, writer's block. He needs stimulation, and on impulse, sight unseen, buys a rundown farmhouse in Lansquenet. But he does not arrive there alone. He's still 'locked in adolescence like a record in a grove'. His summers in Yorkshire shared with an eccentric ex-miner who has a mystical attachment to growing things are not forgotten, and Joe Cox travels with him in disconcertingly solid spectral form - still full of wise saws and horticultural lore, urging Jay to plant his beloved old-and-rare species of fruit and vegetables, and protect them with cabalistic signs and symbols. Jay does find peace of mind and inspiration to write again. The warmth of his welcome to Lansquenet, the understated beauty of its landscape, his work in his garden and the memories of his youthful, rough, rite-of-passage at the hands of a gang of young Yorkshire thugs - and Joe's ultimate (it seems) betrayal, all help to unlock the barriers of creation. But that isn't the end of the story. There are impediments to overcome in Lansquenet too, decisions to be made, battles to be won ... and wine to be drunk: wine that talks 'with a million voices; which unleashes the tongue, teasing out secrets you never meant to tell, secrets you never even knew.'; wine that 'shouts, rants, whispers, speaks of great things, splendid plans, tragic loves and terrible betrayals ... chuckles softly to itself, weeps in front of memories best forgotten...' This is a novel which must be read; by a writer with a great and growing talent who speaks to her readers, in a unique and sensuous voice. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Harris (Chocolat, 1999) returns with a charming fairy tale for grown-ups, including all those seductive elements of contemporary fantasies: a house in the French countryside, potions and healers with the power to transform, love that is always tender, if seldom convincing.Now in his 30s, Jay Mackintosh has failed to produce a successor to the acclaimed novel celebrating English village life that he wrote ten years ago. Jay puts bread on the table with science-fiction thrillers cranked out under a pseudonym, but otherwise he has a serious case of writer's block. Then one night Jay opens one of old Joe Cox's fruit wines and starts recalling the summers he spent working with Joe in his garden on Pog Hill in the former mining town of Kirby Monckton. Jay's lonely adolescent summers (his wealthy parents had separated) were transformed by meeting retired coal miner Joe, and these memories alternate with the sudden changes in his present life in London. The day after drinking the bottle of wine, Jay receives a brochure in the mail advertising a chteau for sale in the heart of the Dordogne. He thinks it's a sign from long-lost Joe, a healer, potion-maker, and fabulist who always talked of one day owning a ch teau in France. Energized, Jay buys the chteau, leaves London and girlfriend Kerry, and becomes the lord of a crumbling but promising French estate. There, he meets a colorful range of rural characters who soon make him feel welcome, but he's most intrigued by his neighbor, the beautiful but elusive young widow Marise, and her supposedly deaf daughter, Rosa. As Jay begins writing a new novel, clearing the property, and planting as his mentor had taught him, a disembodied Joe appears to counsel and criticize. Jay learns why the villagers shun Marise and, in a story that can only end well, finds the happiness he lost when Joe disappeared from Pog Hill 20 years ago.Sweet and lite. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris is one of our best-loved and most versatile novelists. She first appeared on the scene with the bestselling Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp), which turned into the sensuous Lansquenet trilogy (with Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Cure). She has since written acclaimed novels in such diverse genres as fantasy based on Norse myth (Runemarks, Runelight, The Gospel of Loki), and the Malbry cycle of dark psychological thrillers (Gentlemen & Players, Blueeyedboy, and now Different Class). Born in Barnsley, of an English father and a French mother, she spent fifteen years as a teacher before (somewhat reluctantly) becoming a full-time writer. In 2013, she was awarded an MBE. She lives in Yorkshire, plays bass in a band first formed when she was sixteen, works in a shed in her garden, spends far too much time online and occasionally dreams of faking her own death and going to live in Hawaii.

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Different Class by Joanne Harris
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Little Book of Chocolat by Joanne Harris
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