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Blackberry Wine Hardcover – March 2, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 409 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (March 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385600593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385600590
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,375,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Joanne Harris's first novel, Chocolat, was set in the sleepy French village of Lansquenet, where enchantment, romance, and soft-centered truths issued from the local confectioner's shop. She returns to the same location for Blackberry Wine. But as the title suggests, she's shifted her focus from food to drink, choosing a half-dozen bottles of homemade plonk as the catalyst for her "layman's alchemy." And even the narrator is no human being but a faintly tannic Fleurie 1962: "A pert, garrulous wine, cheery and little brash, with a pungent taste of blackcurrant!"

There are, of course, some less vinous characters in the novel. Harris's protagonist, Jay Mackintosh, is a former literary star, now sadly 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." Yet the nice, expensive wines don't do the trick. Instead, six "Specials"--a gift from his old friend Joe--function as Jay's magical elixir. Like Proust's lime-blossom tisane, they give him the gift of his memories but also unlock his future, which encourages him to flee the rut of his London life and buy a house in Lansquenet.

As Jay settles in, he contemplates his childhood friendship with Joe, whose idiosyncratic outlook was the inspiration for his only successful book. Meanwhile, he becomes involved in village life, encountering some familiar faces from Chocolat. Caro and Toinette, the snooty troublemakers, soon put in an appearance, and Josephine, the bar owner and battered wife of the earlier novel, becomes a real friend. But it's a new character, the enigmatic Marise, who becomes the focus of Jay's attention--and who helps to restore his literary joie de vivre. This feat of resurrection makes for a hugely enjoyable read. It also goes one step further in adding Lansquenet to the map of imaginary destinations, where daydreams can come true with intoxicating frequency. --Eithne Farry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like her well-received 1999 novel, Chocolat, Harris's latest outing unfolds around the arrival of an outsider in a tiny French town. This time wine replaces chocolate as Harris's magic elixir, and the newcomer to the village of Lansquenet sur Tannes is Jay Mackintosh, a 37-year-old has-been writer from London. Fourteen years have passed since Jay's debut novel, Jackapple Joe, won the Prix Goncourt. Since then, he has been churning out B-novels under a pseudonym; he currently lives with his girlfriend, Kerry, an aggressively successful 25-year-old celebrity journalist. Flashbacks reveal that Jay's only recollections of happiness are the golden summers he spent as a youth with old Joseph "Jackapple Joe" Cox in the small English town of Kirby Monckton. Joe, a colorful character who made wines from fruits and berries, inspired Joe's successful first novel. But one day he disappeared. When Jay stumbles across an advertisement for an 18th-century "chateau" in wine-growing country, the spell of his misery is broken. After downing a bottle of Joe's '75 Special, which he has been hoarding for 24 years, Jay decides to buy the house sight unseen. Leaving Kerry in London, Jay moves to Lansquenet and starts a new rural life, beginning to write under his own name again. He is bewildered by his reclusive neighbor, Marise d'Api, who apparently coveted his derelict house and land, and is ostracized by the townspeople. Jay's quest to discover why everyone, including Marise's former mother-in-law, blames Marise for her husband's suicide keeps the plot moving at a steady clip. Despite some unbelievable twists and a slightly uneven paceAit begins slowly, but by the last quarter races aheadAthis is an entertaining narrative, equal parts whimsy and drama. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I loved the 'magic' that the author wove into the story, and the trueness of the characters was consistent throughout.
Patricia O. Davis
Overall the book's plot did not excite me too much and we never really know why the husband did what he did that was supposed to be the big surprise at the end.
Moutard
The book takes you in and doesn't let go until you read the last word and then it keeps you under it's spell for days and days.
E. Elliott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Joanne Harris has done it again. After indulging myself in Chocolat, I was a little nervous about reading Blackberry Wine. So many times after a smashing debut, the sophomore effort doesn't match up. However, that wasn't the case with this one. Blackberry Wine is utterly intoxicating.
Thirty-seven-year-old writer, Jay Macintosh, is stuck in the past. During his childhood, Jay spent three magical summers in rural England with retired miner and eccentric gardener, Joe Cox, a man who would become a source of inspiration for Jay. Joe, with his talismans, good luck charms and rituals, taught Jay many things, mostly about luck, magic, gardening and winemaking, before disappearing without a trace one day and impacting Jay for the rest of his life. And several years later, after the overwhelmingly success of his only novel, Jackapple Joe, Jay has found himself struggling with writer's block. On a whim, Jay purchases a small cottage in a remote village in France where he hopes to recreate those magical summers and let his imagination and creativity flow. But there are all sorts of surprises in store for Jay -- for one, a mysterious woman with a secret past that influences Jay in more ways imaginable.
Blackberry Wine is a beautiful, lush piece of work. However, I couldn't fully appreciate it until I'd read the whole story -- it was too hard to decide if I liked it or not when all the pieces were unread. Now having reflected on the complete story (and after ravishing the last few chapters), I realize that Joanne Harris's touch is still magical. Blackberry Wine will seduce you little by little, and it is so worth it by novel's end.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mary Kappelt Skol on September 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Joanne Harris' latest book, Blackberry Wine, picks up on some of the themes of her earlier book, Chocolat. Magic and its application to modern life... the hurtfulness of prejudice, especially religious prejudice against those who don't follow the locally prescribed formula... and the folly of blindly accepting what is too often mistaken as progress and success... are central to both works.
In Blackberry Wine, Jay Mackintosh needs a little magic. An unproductive novelist living in a depressing English lifestyle earmarked by alcohol and an unfulfilling relationship, Jay is haunted by a childhood defined by bullies and detached parents but redeemed by the quirky Joe Cox, who planted vegetables and made magical wine. Now, on a whim, Jay sets out to rediscover Joe's magic in the French village of Lansquenet, a place which is quaint and remote but beginning to go to seed and also needs a little magic. Jay carries with him the last six bottles of Joe's Special wine. The house that Jay purchases sight unseen except for a blurry picture in a brochure, is in disrepair but reminds him of Joe, and in fact seems to be inhabited by Joe's ghost.
In the house over the next several months, Jay uncorks the Special wines one by one, releasing their magic and allowing himself and the house to absorb their mysterious qualities. He begins renovations on the place, taking care not to lose its essential charm. He meets and learns about the people in the village and their concerns for saving their economy and their way of life. His writer's block lifts and he can hardly believe he is able to produce page after page of a new novel about the village and its inhabitants.
Read more ›
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By wrylass on June 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel is not without flaws, and some of the other reviews have drawn attention to some of these. Having bought an old house recently myself, the flaw that was most annoying to me is how quickly and effortlessly Jay whips this huge old house with major structural problems into shape while also completing a novel, planting a garden, bringing an orchard and rose garden back to life, drawing major gossip out of each and every reticent villager, and finding true love.
However, when I bought the book I was looking for (as mentioned in the title) a pleasant and relaxing read, and I found it in Blackberry Wine. This book sent me looking for more of Joanne Harris, because even though it does end abruptly with loose ends untied, its language is beautiful, and it has an intoxicating and entrancing quality unique in my experience. I felt drawn into the drowsy village. It was also a book I *could* put down, which I considered a plus. I was not looking for a sleepless Maeve Binchy night!
If you're looking for a book that will knock another off your top-5 all-time favorites list, this probably isn't it. But if you're looking for an enjoyable book and lovely prose, this is a good bet.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Joanne Harris peoples her stories with characters who are more than a little fey, individuals who possess a touch of magic and who live in the realm of myth or fairy tale. In Blackberry Wine, the magical character is Joe Cox, the pivotal character of Jay, an author's, youth in a small English village. Joe had a magical cottage and garden and made wine from the fruits and berries on his squatter's land by a river, and was the main character in Jay's award-winning novel. Joe's sudden disappearance devastated Jay. When he suffers depression and writer's block, he buys, sight unseen, an 18th century chateau. Joe's bottles of wine, which he's been carting around with him for the past 2 decades, also move to the French chateau. As Jay begins drinking them, magic happens, and there's the over-riding question of, Where is Joe now, and could it be that he's that guy who...?
To say more would be to say too much.
Lovely book.
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More About the Author

Joanne Harris is a British 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.

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