I know, I know, I haven’t been updating. If you guessed that this is because I haven’t been writing, you would be correct. BUT – it’s not writer’s block. It’s insomnia, and the consequent zombie-state. Don’t ask me why I’m not sleeping, I don’t know, I *really* need to. Funny thing, though – I’ve had a tonne of messages on facebook saying I’m not the only insomniac at the moment. Maybe it’s solar flares or summat.
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you my love of Joanne Harris and her books. Don’t know who Joanne Harris is? Well, do you know who this is?
Johnny Depp once played a role in a film adaptation of Chocolat. Joanne Harris wrote Chocolat, and also its sequel, The Lollipop Shoes, and apparently she’s going to be writing a third volume in which Vianne goes back to Lansquenet.
Now I’ve got your attention though, I’m going to disappoint you all and not talk to you about Chocolat, because it’s not my favourite book of hers. Aw, were you hoping for more young Johnny Depp? Alright, last one though.
I’ll stop talking Chocolat now, lest my teeth rot, though I do invite you to watch the film THEN read the book (it’s always better to do it in that order, so as not to be disappointed, except in the case of Cloud Atlas). I liked Chocolat well enough, but it didn’t resonate with me in the same way that, say, Five Quarters of the Orange did.
Five Quarters is how I discovered Joanne Harris. When I was fifteen, a friend of my parents who was visiting brought presents for us, and I remember him coming into the living room and, in passing, just handing me a book. I remember thinking that the front cover looked a bit like the photos in the Titania spell books. I don’t remember the rest, but I can tell you how it probably went: I read the whole thing almost in one go, got told off for coming late to the dinner table because of it and tried to get out of doing the dishes and being sociable so I could go back to my room and read, I stayed up way past my bedtime and if the next day was a school day, I got scolded for dozing in class and daydreamed about it all day.
That’s what happened every time I fell obsessively in love with a story.
It was about a stubborn little girl who felt very out of place within her family and her village during the French Occupation, and the old, crochety woman she became later. And yes, there were elements of French cuisine to make your mouth water, but what I discovered – and still can’t emulate – were characters that were real, and a world – scents, colours, sounds, sensations – that I could experience as long as I was reading. That is what Joanne Harris does – for me, anyway – she transports me into a world that is not mine so completely that when I finally emerge from it, I take some of it home with me.
Although her themes and language are completely different, the way her books suck you into their world is comparible to Toni Morrison’s writing, which I can only read in half-hour segments because it’s so intense (and I’ve only read Sula and Beloved).
I suppose I have four favourites, Five Quarters being one. If you prefer to escape to the Victorian era, Sleep Pale Sister is another. I have to admit it’s been ages since I actually read it (my sister “borrowed” it from me years ago), but I do remember a sort of dark, laudanum-ridden dream that put me uncomfortably in mind of sleep paralysis.
blueyedboy would be the one to read if you want to ween yourself off the Internet but don’t know how. This will keep you occupied long enough for a decent break, and maybe scare you into logging off altogether.
And for the hardcore Fantasy fans who refuse to read anything else, there’s Runemarks. Especially good if you like Norse gods and wish Marvel had done a better job of portraying them.
Those are my favourites, but there are MOAR and you can read all about them here.
What? Oh, alright.