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Blackberry Wine [Kindle Edition]

Joanne Harris
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

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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Product Description

Amazon Review

Joanne Harris weaves spells of "everyday magic" once again in Blackberry Wine. Her previous novel, Chocolat, was a delicious confection, melding together bewitchment and romance in a chocolatier, in the sleepy French village of Lansquenet. This time around six bottles of home-made brew are the catalyst for her "layman's alchemy." The story is even told by a Fleurie 1962: "A pert, garrulous wine, cheery and a little brash, with a pungent taste of blackcurrant!"

Jay Mackintosh, once a literary star, is stalled. He spends his time writing second rate science fiction, leading a hollow media life and drinking: "Not to forget, but to remember, to open up the past and find himself there again." Nice, expensive wines don't do the trick, it's the six "Specials", a gift from Joe, an old friend, that are the magical elixir. Just like Proust's lime blossom tea, they give him the gift of his memories but also unlock his future; Jay escapes the rut of his London life and buys a house in Lansquenet.

As Jay settles in, he contemplates his childhood friendship with Joe, who made the Specials and whose idiosyncratic outlook on life was the inspiration for his only successful book. Jay becomes involved in village life, meeting up with some familiar characters from Chocolat. Caro and Toinette, the snooty troublemakers, make an appearance and Josephine, the bar owner and battered wife of the earlier novel, becomes a real friend. But it is a new character, the enigmatic Marise that becomes the real focus of his attention. It's the lure of her story that really changes his life, re-ignites the flare of his work.

The book is hugely enjoyable. Joanne Harris' Lansquenet is fast becoming a fairy tale destination, where daydreams become enchantingly possible. Joanne Harris's prose in Blackberry Wine adds to the spell. It's warm and heady, an intoxicating read. --Eithne Farry


"Touching, funny and clever" (Daily Telegraph)

"A lively and original talent" (The Sunday Times)

"Joanne Harris has the gift of conveying her delight in the sensuous pleasures of food, wine, scent and plants... Blackberry Wine has all the appeal of a velvety scented glass of vintage wine" (Daily Mail)

"Thickly sensuous, wildly indulgent magical escapism: Chocolat lovers will drink deeply" (Guardian)

Product details

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television.
In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.
Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She also spends too much time on Twitter; plays flute and bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.

Photo © Kyte photography

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical and inspring! 17 Feb. 2007
Being a Joanne Harris fan I was really looking forward to reading this book, and I am so pleased I did. Being a wine drinker myself it had me wanting to open up a bottle, and I have even started to call mine 'Specials!' LOL.

The book is about friendship between an old man Joe Cox and a teenage boy Jay Mackintosh. How Jay looks up to Joe and he learns about the magic in Joes life, and how Joe lives. Joe is connected to the magic of nature. and this facinates Jay.

Joe loves to make wine, and in later life Jay has some of these 'Specials', as he drinks them memories of the past rise and a journey begins. I won't go on about the story more than I have, as this story truly is magical.

In the book a bottle of wine begins to tell the story, this I felt was a great way to start the book. I have no problem with reading about an inanimate object talking, and I found it to be interesting and original. I have read that it put a small minority of other people off the book, but don't let other peoples opinions sway you. I highly recommend this book.

I could relate to some of the things in this book, with me being someone who respects nature and also believes in magic. Another thing I loved about this book, is some of the charaters from Joanne's book 'Chocolat' are in this book too, as some of this book is set in the French town of Lansquenet.

For me the book was a wonderful read, it tugged at my emotions, and I felt as though I was looking through Jays eyes, feeling his happiness, and his sadness.

A fabulous book to sit down and unwind with, the sort of book you sit down snuggled up on your bed, or by the fire and read.

My Verdict: Magical and inspring!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magic.... 5 Feb. 2002
By A Customer
I was given this book as a gift - sceptical at first and thinking it wasn't really my scene, but soon realising how wrong I was and finishing it in just over a day. Joanne Harris has a great skill for transporting the reader into the sights and sounds of the french landscape - 'layman's alchemy' as old Joe would say. Read the book and you'll understand. Magical....I shall definately soon be investing in 'chocolat.'
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In both of her books to date (Chocolat and Blackberry Wine), the ability of Joanne Harris to conjure up evocative images of food, places and people is unsurpassed. It makes you feel like you are actually standing with the characters seeing and smelling everything that they see and smell.
Blackberry Wine typifies this perfectly by using an old fashioned allotment as its starting point followed by the same town in France developed in Chocolat. The story is good (although not great) and there is one excellent character in Joe - the master gardener / magician!
If you like feel-good books with an occassional twist, this book is definately worth reading.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to Chocolat 21 Aug. 2005
By Faith
I'm totally fascinated. Blackberry Wine is yeat an other wonderful Joanne Harris-book. I love them. This time it is writer Jay Makintosh who has to make up with his past involving the betrayal of an old friend. Harris keeps writing about the same themes in book after book. But that's really nothing negative. It's great. There definitely is a great bit of nostalgia over her books.
Besides haunting pasts one of her themes is small villages and the speciall kind of societys they make. Everybody knows everybody and that's very bad when you are excluded, but when yua are included it's really great. An interesting thing about Backberry Wine is that it is set in the sam small village, Lansquenet, where Harris' most famous book Chocolat is set. We do actually meet the same characters again, and only the main charcters are different. So as always, Harris is a master of describing "the French idyl". This time, however, a importatnt part of the book is set in England. Maybe England and France aren't so differnt after all. Well...
As for the symbolism. Harris is a master of that also. Blackberry wine reveals secrets. There's a gret deal of magic over it, just like over the chocolate in Chocolat. Blackberry wine is something mysterious, but this time not dangerous like the oranges in Five Qarters of an Orange. It rather stands for safety and comfort, being what Jay has left of his old friend Joe.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious feast of a book 5 Aug. 2005
What a fabulous read...emotive childhood scenes, the sure touch of the author`s pen guides us through childhood,its complexities and anxieties, through to the wilderness of adult life. Familiar themes of other worldliness and sorcery entwine with the grounding earthiness of gardens and vines. A delicious, enjoyable and thought provoking read - buy it!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blackberry wine-a nostalgic ,cheeky little number! 10 April 2006
I have read and re-read this book ,thoroughly enjoying it afresh each time. Don't be put off by the unusual beginning with bottles of wine seemingly talking to one another. Read on. The story starts with a struggling author,Jay Macintosh trying to recapture his early literary success. There are many flashbacks to his lonely childhood and his friendship with Jackapple Joe,a fantastic character. Jackapple Joe is an elderly ex-miner,dedicated to his garden and his specials and full of mystical, homespun wisdom. Jay feels driven to leave everything behind to live in France where Joe's influence and alchemy is still potent and where he helps Jay resolve his struggle.
A lovely book, told with great skill and poignancy. I suppose it's a modern day "Cider with Rosie" but so much better than that. Delightful!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting story
Can you imagine a book narrated by a bottle of wine? No? Well it works!
Jay grows up in the North of England in the 1970's. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Terry Day
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written book
Absolutely adored this book, as told by a bottle of wine. Liked the way it jumped from 70's to 90's and the main character's relationship bond with the old man. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Joanne Price
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great read.
Published 2 months ago by SW
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love this book
Published 4 months ago by Mrs Diane Hudson
2.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't recommend.
Very long winded. Wordy book. Wouldn't recommend.
Published 5 months ago by Sophie
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoyed Chocolat you will love this
If you enjoyed Chocolat you will love this. I found it took me a few chapters to get into the swing, but once into this book I couldn't put it down.
Published 6 months ago by Molly
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book
A beautiful book - once I got into it, I found this captivating. I would highly recommend it. Harris's writing is as strong in it as ever, her characterisation perfect and I found... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Poppetsong
3.0 out of 5 stars not her best but I'm a real fan and she doesn't write ...
not her best but I'm a real fan and she doesn't write much so I was pleased to have something of hers.
Published 7 months ago by pat poacher
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book is in my opinion as good as Chocolat, and that's saying something. A captivating read.
Published 8 months ago by Lee Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars goes to your head
Read it, if you are a fan you will love it, if you have not discovered her work, start here.
Published 9 months ago by B. E. Myerscough
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