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Jigs & Reels: Stories Hardcover – August 10, 2004


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Constant Fear
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Constant Fear "firmly places [author] Palmer alongside the likes of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner." — The Providence Journal
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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 (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,152,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
43%
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7%
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See all 14 customer reviews
I'd love to have had another dozen stories to read.
Tracy Brown
I really like to sit down and relax with a book and I sometimes feel cheated with short stories.
misplaced cajun
The stories in this book cover a wide range of subjects and styles, as others have noted.
Debbie the Book Devourer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
British author Joanne Harris displayed a wicked way with a pen and a finely tuned inventiveness with her first novel "Chocolat." She's evidenced those traits since in such delicious reads as "Holy Fools" and "Five Quarters of the Orange." If anything those qualities are even more finely honed in this, her first short story collection.

Twenty-two stories, some perhaps more aptly described as vignettes, run the gamut of human emotions. They're dark, which won't surprise Harris fans, and they're also amusing.

Consider "Faith and Hope Go Shopping," the story of two determined ladies in an old people's home. It seems that monotony is becoming a bit much for this pair. After all, Monday is always rice pudding, and while concern for their teeth is appreciated, Faith can also think of some things one doesn't have to chew - oysters, creme brulee, foie gras. One day it all is just too predictable, so the friends break out and go to London in search of a copy of Lolita and a pair of Jimmy Choos.

Harris's retelling of the Cinderella story from the viewpoint of one of the Ugly Sisters is a treasure. Little could we have imagined what this poor woman has had to endure. Apparently it's even more devastating at Christmas time when she appears in plays and is hissed, booed, and "spat at by shrieking, sticky children with ice cream all over their faces." She's had quite enough of that, to say nothing of having to put up with Her Smugness (aka Cinderella who always wore designer rags).

Glad to say that there's also a happy ending for those not blessed with movie star features. Where this Ugly Sister finds hers is quite a surprise.

In "Gastronomicon" Harris returns to familiar turf - cuisine.
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3 of 3 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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3 of 3 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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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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