Tuesday, November 29, 2011


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Blackberry Wine, Joanne Harris, William Morris, 2000, 357 pp

This was a reading group pick and I voted for it because I liked the movie "Chocolat" so wanted to read some books by this author. Blackberry Wine is pretty good; a romance made better because she addressed creativity, community, financial greed and a few other issues.

Jay Mackintosh is a blocked novelist, living in London with one of those business-like, smart, pushy young women who seem to run the world these days. He wrote one good novel but now can only write trash. Luckily the trash brings him good money, so when he spies a real estate brochure for a farmhouse in a remote French village, he can just buy it and move there.

Despite the girlfriend, a few troublesome villagers and a mysterious neighbor, Jay's wishes all come true in a year's time. He even finds love.

Because this is Joanne Harris, a magical element runs through the story. I do love magic in stories, though I wasn't entirely thrilled by the ways this author employed it. Most surprising was how most of my fellow reading group members did not have a problem with it because they are absolutely NOT fantasy readers.

My favorite character was Jay's childhood friend, a gypsy girl named Gilly who helped him man up when he was a wimpy kid. I also liked the French villagers who preferred their tight-knit community and small vineyards to becoming a tourist town in Provence.

Joanne Harris has her heart in the right place and I like her whimsical outlook as well as her humor. I found her almost too lightweight but she will be one of those authors I turn to after a stint of the dark, heavy, literary reading I love the best.

(Blackberry Wine is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. Click on the image above to locate the book in your closest independent store.)

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