Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joanne Harris

Alright, continuing the short story theme for summer reading, I had to post something about Joanne Harris. Because she's amazing. All of her work is truly phenomenal.

I discovered her while in college, working at the bookstore. In 2001, I received an ARC for her then new release, Five Quarters of the Orange. I had seen Chocolat, but not read the book, but when I saw that this was the new release from that author, I figured it was time to give her a shot.

I loved Five Quarters it remains one of my favorites today and one that I always heavily recommended to readers. I went on to read all of her available books (Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, then Coastliners and Holy Fools. When Jig and Reels was released in 2004, there was no doubt that I would snatch it up and devour it like the others. But it was short stories. I mean, I knew I loved King's stuff by this time, but I wasn't completely sold that another author could capture that same magic in their shorts that King had for me.

Boy was I wrong! The first thing I absolutely loved about this collection is that Harris explains her inspiration for each story. I'm not sure why, but that particular element really added something genuinely fantastic to this book. The second thing that I love is that it shows her range as an author. If you haven't read her before, then you should know that there's always a touch of magic, sometimes a little bit of gothic undertones, and a general ability to evoke every emotion you can think of. Jigs and Reels is all of that in twenty-two neat little packages.

Some of the stories, like the opening tale "Faith and Hope go Shopping," are heartwarming feel good stories. Others, like "Gastronomicon" are magical stories. And still others are sneaky and disturbing stories. All of them are gems! There is not one tale in this collection that I didn't get completely absorbed in.

I know that I owe you all some Joanne Harris posts here. They'll be coming. This is the first and I definitely recommend it as a starting point if you've not be introduced to her yet. Completely amazing. I promise.


Sandra said...

I've just finished reading her latest novel, blueeyedboy, and wow was it gripping. I'd enjoyed Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes but this was very different. I've acquired a couple of her older books through swap and can't wait to read more of her. I'll watch for more of your posts on her work.

Becky LeJeune said...

Sandra, I'm dying to read Blue Eyed Boy -- it's not out here in the States yet. I still haven't read Lollipop Shoes yet either. I'm waiting for one of her older gothic titles to arrive. It's on backorder from the UK.