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Jigs & Reels: Stories Hardcover – August 10, 2004

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harris, author of the bestsellers Chocolat and Holy Fools, delivers 22 sharp and wickedly provocative stories. In "Faith and Hope Go Shopping," two elderly women dream of escaping their nursing home and trading in their leatherette slip-ons for the perfect pair of Jimmy Choos. The narrator of "A Place in the Sun" goes to desperate lengths to penetrate the all-exclusive Platinum Sands beach, from which everyone but the "infinitely sexy, ultimately desirable" is barred. In "The Ugly Sister," Harris casts one of Cinderella's stepsisters in a sympathetic light, bringing an equally notorious and misunderstood fairy tale character into the picture to steal her heart. The protagonist of "Come in, Mr. Lowry, Your Number Is Up!" wins the lottery and spends his money recklessly only to discover that the ominous thing he truly wants he cannot buy. And when Angela K, the 29-year-old society columnist of "Hello, Goodbye" covers a celebrity funeral, she comes to understand the bizarre attraction of death and the twisted emotions that often accompany it. With themes ranging from ageism to magic and the harrowing intricacies of relationships, Harris's varied tales capture and magnify our hopes and flaws.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The popular author of Chocolat (1999) and Five Quarters of the Orange (2001) is best known for her sensual descriptions of food and her pleasing portraits of small-town life in France. Fans who pick up this collection of 22 short stories will be surprised at the new directions Harris explores here. Very brief stories prefaced by one- or two-sentence explanations of their origins reveal Harris' tart take on working out at the gym ("not my favorite place") or cosmetic surgery. Others, more fantastical in nature, ponder what would happen if an author ended up in a room with the characters from manuscripts long left unfinished or the plight of a monster who lures victims by setting up elaborate role-playing games. Also included is an impassioned retelling of the Cinderella story from the ugly stepsister's viewpoint and a tale about a young wife who discovers that the recipes in her mother-in-law's treasured if musty cookbook often have unintended consequences. It's possible that staunch Harris fans will be put off by her dark and fanciful tales because they are so unlike her mainstream fiction. Some of the stories, as well, seem to be more tossed off than fleshed out. Still, these inventive, darkly humorous pieces might intrigue readers looking for something entirely different. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (August 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060590130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060590130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on September 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Joanne Harris, author of CHOCOLAT, BLACKBERRY WINE and FIVE QUARTERS OF THE ORANGE, cooks up a surprise for her many fans in this anthology: Not only can she write short stories, she can also display an amazing range. These pieces are completely unlike her dreamily delicious food-oriented novels, some dipping into human nature's dark and secretive aspects. In her foreword, Harris muses on how delightful it is to find short stories back in vogue. Her anthology should help keep them in style.

JIGS & REELS begins with the irresistible "Faith and Hope Go Shopping," in which two residents in a nursing home escape into the outside world to seek their hearts' desires. But just as the reader settles comfortably in after that heartwarmingly adventurous yarn, she encounters the polar opposite in "The G-SUS Gene," a scathing science fiction yarn about free will and religion, which left me pondering, "Did she mean...? Or was it...?" In the author's foreword, she confides that short stories stick with her; I can guarantee I'll be pondering "The G-SUS Gene" for quite some time.

Harris specializes in a good twist in the tale; some are more of a surprise than others. In "Hello, Goodbye" a gossip columnist's disturbing take on an ultrafashionable funeral culminates with an expected but ironic and tragic twist. I could never have predicted the ending of "Waiting for Gandalf," in which a group's long-running role-playing game goes awry when cynical newcomers join in. And I adored the surreal kink in the plot of the honeymoon saga "Fish."

Harris's characters, such as the plump, bald vampire (virgins would never look at this leech twice) in "Never Give A Sucker . . ." are wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By misplaced cajun on September 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit, I am usually disappointed in short stories. I really like to sit down and relax with a book and I sometimes feel cheated with short stories. This book is not like that! Harris is a fabulous writer and each story is coupled with a little blurb about where she got the idea for the tale. This is the perfect book for anyone like me who normally doesn't like to read short stories and I promise you, like me, you'll go in search of another collection that will make you feel like this one did!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Longtime Reader on December 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The first story in the book was excellent, a touching, funny look at old age. I wanted it to go on into a full length novel. Some of the other stories were dark. I enjoyed the ones with a science fiction flavor less than the others, but was amazed at the range of styles Ms. Harris covered. The whole book was extremely well written, drawing the reader on to the next tale. I am looking forward to future books by Joanne Harris.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By THEdraya on April 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
JoAnne Harris is a queen . . . I loved it. I pretty much have loved all her books I have read. I have yet to read the blue eyed boy and the bad seed, which seem nothing like her others which are subtle and twisty and full of tradition, magic and truth. The coast liners has been a very long read but I can always pick it up and be back in it, it is the only one so far that has taken me more than a few days. I am a writer myself and a very picky reader of fiction, in fact. the only other fiction books I have enjoyed and read fully in the last decade are Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister. I love how JoAnne Harris writes most of them from first person, yet from all the different characters perspective. my favorites however are Sleep Pale Sister, Blackberry Wine and The Girl with No Shadow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Burrows on November 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A collection of truly charming and colourful short stories that take the reader away from everyday life for a quick sojourn in a more interesting world. I've re-read one of the stories, 'Faith and Hope go shopping', numerous times, just to enjoy the feel-good moment all over again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debbie the Book Devourer on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The stories in this book cover a wide range of subjects and styles, as others have noted. But all -- both the realistic and the magical stories -- are written with a magic touch. Some are darkly funny, some just plain dark, some are quirky, and some are sweet. All of them speak to the soul in some way.

Here are just a few examples: two women from a nursing home help each other bust out to go shopping; the actress who perennially plays an ugly stepsister (and comes to inhabit the role) explains why the stepsisters get a bum rap; a man undergoes a transformation while eating a meal in Naples; a class reunion of witches goes funnily awry, yet does not look that different from any other class reunion; a woman dares to try recipes from an old cookbook.

I enjoyed every story immensely, even if the transition from one to another was sometimes jolting. That jolt was actually part of the fun! And I did enjoy Ms. Harris's little quotes at the beginning of each story telling us what inspired her to write it. I'm always interested in how people come up with ideas for stories.

If you'd like a really fun collection of stories that will tickle your brain just a little as well as your funny bone, pick this one up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fred Camfield on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like most short story collections, the individual stories vary in length and quality. It is hard to categorize the stories as they cover a range of topics and human emotions. Some deal with the supernatural and some with people's desires. The author notes that she finds it hard to write short stories. I have personally found that writing short stories is easy, but finding editors to publish them is extremely hard. Perhaps that is why the author has published them as a collection. Some are longer, complete stories; and some seem to be more in the category of short scenes.

I particularly liked the man contemplating suicide who decided to indulge himself in things he would have never otherwise have done, e.g., two leather-clad blondes in a parked vehicle. And then their is the story about the ugly sister, and her feelings about Cinderella. There is the woman trying to use an ancient cookbook who obtains some very, very strange results. There is the class reunion, but a class from a rather strange school.

Overall, the author is very creative, and has let her mind wander in some strange directions. But that makes for a collection of good stories.
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