Jay Mackintosh is trapped by memory in the old familiar landscape of his childhood, more enticing than the present, and to which he longs to return.
A bottle of home-brewed wine left to him by a long-vanished friend seems to provide both the key to an old mystery and a doorway into another world. As the unusual properties of the strange brew takes effect, Jay escapes to a derelict farmhouse in the French village of Lansquenet, where 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?
About the Author
Joanne Harris's Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is the author of many other bestselling novels. Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse, and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born.
Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat - shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Prize) can make the most cynical reader believe in magic. She can seduce you with flavours, bemuse you with words (if you don't believe me, just read the first few sentences of this new novel.) Jay Mackintosh's story oscillates between 1970s boyhood summers in a small, dying Yorkshire pit-village and late 1990s life in a village in southern France (which readers of Chocolat will instantly recognize). Jay is a novelist with a dwindling love-affair and, after one bestselling novel, writer's block. He needs stimulation, and on impulse, sight unseen, buys a rundown farmhouse in Lansquenet. But he does not arrive there alone. He's still 'locked in adolescence like a record in a grove'. His summers in Yorkshire shared with an eccentric ex-miner who has a mystical attachment to growing things are not forgotten, and Joe Cox travels with him in disconcertingly solid spectral form - still full of wise saws and horticultural lore, urging Jay to plant his beloved old-and-rare species of fruit and vegetables, and protect them with cabalistic signs and symbols. Jay does find peace of mind and inspiration to write again. The warmth of his welcome to Lansquenet, the understated beauty of its landscape, his work in his garden and the memories of his youthful, rough, rite-of-passage at the hands of a gang of young Yorkshire thugs - and Joe's ultimate (it seems) betrayal, all help to unlock the barriers of creation. But that isn't the end of the story. There are impediments to overcome in Lansquenet too, decisions to be made, battles to be won ... and wine to be drunk: wine that talks 'with a million voices; which unleashes the tongue, teasing out secrets you never meant to tell, secrets you never even knew.'; wine that 'shouts, rants, whispers, speaks of great things, splendid plans, tragic loves and terrible betrayals ... chuckles softly to itself, weeps in front of memories best forgotten...' This is a novel which must be read; by a writer with a great and growing talent who speaks to her readers, in a unique and sensuous voice. (Kirkus UK)
Number Of Pages: 414
Published: 2nd April 2001
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.6 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.248