Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (made into a major film starring Juliette Binoche), Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, Jigs & Reels, and, with Fran Warde, The French Kitchen: A Cookbook. She lives in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, with her husband and daughter.
Fellow novelist ANNE BERRY on JOANNE HARRIS
I have thoroughly enjoyed all Joanne Harris’s books but Gentlemen and Players I quite simply adored. I loved the character Roy Straightley, an aging Classic’s teacher with a dicky heart, clinging tenaciously to honest old values, his delightfully ironic sense of humour, his warmth, his dedication. In his secure hands we are led into such a gripping story with so many twist and turns that my only sadness was that it had to end.
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Our December 2020 Guest Editor “Take what you need from these pages; and most of all, enjoy what you do. Joy is such a vital part of creative writing – because if you don’t enjoy what you write, how can you expect anyone else to?” So begins Joanne Harris’s invaluably inspirational - and practical - Ten Things About Writing. Reading this book is rather like having a wise writer as a best friend, on hand to offer pragmatic and energising advice, with many unhelpful myths about writing crumbled, and an emphasis on the fact that writing is to be worked at, not something a wand can be waved at: “The ability to spin words into gold is a skill that comes from hard work, patience and lots of practice. Some people may have an aptitude; others will struggle to gain momentum.” I particularly loved the author’s unravelling of the myth of inspiration: “The idea that we must wait for the Muse to inspire us was invented by effete young Victorians who wanted an excuse to sit around doing nothing all day. Most of us don’t have that luxury, which means forgetting about the Muse and doing some actual footwork instead.” And this gem: “Don’t write because you want to be a writer. Write because you want to write.” In bracing style, Harris covers everything from doing proper research, finding your voice and effectual use of description (“If a passage doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s just pointless decoration. Kill it”), to drafting (“all first drafts are terrible... Just get on with it”), re-writing, and what to expect if you’re lucky enough to be published. And she doesn’t stop there, in the way that writing doesn’t either. She also covers dealing with fear, failure, rejection and writer’s block, with every stone turned and looked at from fresh angles, ending with an uplifting reminder that no matter how your writing journey turns out, “just writing is an act of bravery”. I’ll leave you with this typically droll nugget from the section on writing about women: “Top tip: real women very rarely think about their breasts at all – and certainly never in the way in which some male writers think they do.” I know this is a book I’ll keep coming back to, along with checking-in on the author’s #TenThings tweets. The LoveReading LitFest invited Joanne Harris to the festival to give a Masterclass on writing, pegged to her book, Ten Things About Writing. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Joanne in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out the tips of the trade. It's a must watch for any budding writer or avid reader.
With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new broom has arrived at the venerable school, bringing Powerpoint, sharp suits and even sixth form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even twenty years on haunts his teacher's dreams. A boy capable of bad things.
The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods - retold from the point of view of the world's ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki's recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself.
Stories are like Russian dolls; open them up, and in each one you'll find another story. Come to the house where it is Christmas all year round; meet the ghost who lives on a Twitter timeline; be spooked by a newborn baby created with sugar, spice and lashings of cake. Conjured from a wickedly imaginative pen, here is a new collection of short stories that showcases Joanne Harris' exceptional talent as a teller of tales, a spinner of yarns. Sensuous, mischievous, uproarious and wry, here are tales that combine the everyday with the unexpected; wild fantasy with bittersweet reality.
A fascinating novel. In one way comforting, as you find yourself back in the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes for a third time (Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes). In another challenging and a little unsettling, as Harris addresses how the religion of Islam can be used as an excuse for segregation and certain behaviour. Unsurprisingly it is handled incredibly well and she delivers a satisfying read that we think would be a great reading group choice as well. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 24 May 2012. Listen to an audio extract by clicking on the orange arrow below. Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris by Random House Audiobooks
June 2012 Book of the Month. A fascinating novel. In one way comforting, as you find yourself back in the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes for a third time (Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes). In another challenging and a little unsettling, as Harris addresses how the religion of Islam can be used as an excuse for segregation and certain behaviour. Unsurprisingly it is handled incredibly well and she delivers a satisfying read that we think would be a great reading group choice as well. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 24 May 2012. Listen to an audio extract by clicking on the orange arrow below. Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris by Random House Audiobooks
April 2011 Book of the Month. A brilliantly plotted thriller from the author of Chocolat. This tale of a highly dysfunctional family is gripping, humorous and ever so slightly chilling. Joanne Harris lures the reader in from the opening lines and creates a character whose dark desires and fantasies are revealed through his web journal. Joanne Harris weaves a chilling tale of disguise and betrayal to create one of her darkest and most audacious books yet. It's a real page turner too.
The much anticipated sequel to Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes is set 5 years after we left Vianne and her daughter Anouk. Vianne now has another daughter and the three of them live in Montmartre. Vianne has changed their names, given up her magical ways and stopped making chocolate, that is until a stranger blows in to town and gradually persuades Vianne to regain her chocolate making skills. Joanne Harris is on top form and it is a delight to re-visit these characters. Prepare for a battle of wills and magical skills as good and evil fight it out to the end. Enchanting. If you would like to read more books set in and around Paris, then go to the fabulous City-Lit Guide to Paris where you will find a plethora of titles featured.
One of Anne Berry's favourite books. So different from her lyrical, female-based French novels for this one is set in an English Grammar School and is very much a thriller. Fast-paced and suspenseful, with an unexpected twist, it flows easily between two narratives with both humour and dark undertones. It is a most rewarding read. Comparison: Kate Atkinson, Sebastian Barry, Marina Lewycka. Fellow novelist ANNE BERRY on JOANNE HARRIS I have thoroughly enjoyed all Joanne Harris’s books but Gentlemen and Players I quite simply adored. I loved the character Roy Straightley, an aging Classic’s teacher with a dicky heart, clinging tenaciously to honest old values, his delightfully ironic sense of humour, his warmth, his dedication. In his secure hands we are led into such a gripping story with so many twist and turns that my only sadness was that it had to end.
Into a small rural French village comes a mysterious woman, Vianne, her young daughter and the child’s invisible rabbit. They open a chocolate shop opposite the church. It is Lent and a strange war breaks out between the church and the shop. In alternating chapters between the priest and Vianne we are given views of good and evil, temptation and righteousness and a thought-provoking story unfolds. This is quite delicious, all of it – the villager’s and their secrets, the Frenchness of it all and the chocolate. A far greater book than the film. A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... ‘I’ve always believed you can’t go wrong with love and chocolate: and this deliciously has both. This is a novel which is totally irresistible, because it works on so many different levels: there’s the lovely French setting, the sensuousness of the food and the seriousness of the underlying themes, mixed with a dash of magic, a pinch of ancient wisdom, plus gentle humour and a clear-eyed insight into the most repressed of emotions. Joanne Harris has gone on to write a whole string of bestsellers, often sensuous, sometimes chilling, always surprising – but Chocolat remains the one she is best-known for, and most-loved, too.' Marianne Velmans, Publishing Director at Transworld
Not that anyone would admit it was goblins. In Maddy Smiths world, Order rules. Chaos, old gods, Faries, goblins, magic, glamoursall of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago. But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived. The ruinmark she was born with on her palm proves itand makes the other villagers fearful that she is a witch (though shes helpful in dealing with the goblins-in-the-cellar problem). But the mysterious traveler One-Eye sees Maddys mark not as a defect but as a destiny. And Maddy will need every scrap that One-Eye can teach her about runes, cantrips, and glamoursevery ounce of magic she can commandif she is to survive that destiny.
DISAPPEAR INTO THE WORLD OF THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING CHOCOLAT . . . 'So wise, so atmospheric, so beautifully written' Marian Keyes 'The most magical, stunningly beautiful novel' Joanna Cannon 'It will intrigue and charm readers every bit as much as Chocolat' Monica Ali --------------------------- Faith. Secret. Magic. Murder...? Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her youngest child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend. But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. Then the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - seems to herald a change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder . . . What will the wind blow in today? --------------------------- Return to the world of the multi-million-copy bestselling Chocolat.... 'A writer whose wit and sharp observation enhances her engaging story-telling' Salley Vickers 'The most magical, stunningly beautiful novel . . . I sobbed at the end because I couldn't bear to leave. Joanne is truly one of the world's finest storytellers' Joanna Cannon 'A place of magic and mysteries, and Harris excels in this delicate balance of realism and enchantment . . . It will intrigue and charm readers every bit as much as Chocolat' Monica Ali 'Sheer pleasure from start to finish. The Strawberry Thief is a delight' James Runcie 'I devoured it in one go' Christopher Fowler 'Compelling, captivating, incredibly moving, The Strawberry Thief whirls you into a thrilling world you will never forget . . . A perfect novel that shimmers with brilliance and truth' Kate Williams
Your favourite authors have been gripped by this electric psychological thriller! 'A dark world of emotional complexity and betrayal, where twist follows twist and nothing is what it seems' ALEX MICHAELIDES 'Exhilarating, addictive, fierce' BRIDGET COLLINS 'A psychological thriller you can't put down and an antiheroine you won't forget' HARLAN COBEN 'Dark, Gothic, and propulsively readable - past secrets and present discoveries entangle in an intricately crafted conclusion' RUTH WARE 'Engrossing, cunning, sharp, sinister . . . kept me enthralled till the final pages' CHRIS WHITAKER 'A clever chess game of repressed fears, power struggles, secrets and lies' LUCY ATKINS 'A complex, chilling mystery full of shifting truths and dark corners where the unburied past lies in wait' TAMMY COHEN 'A dark and richly enjoyable novel that already feels like a classic' ELLY GRIFFITHS 'Irresistibly readable, dark and brilliant with a masterful emotional punch' CATRIONA WARD * * * * * Now I'm in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules. It's an incendiary moment for St Oswald's school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls. Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered. But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She'll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all... You can't keep a good woman down. * * * * * Praise for Joanne Harris's other books set in the St Oswald's world - which all read as standalone thrillers: 'A masterpiece of misdirection' Val McDermid 'Delivers an almighty twist . . . brilliantly atmospheric ' The Times 'Crime novel or literary novel? Categories really don't matter; readers will find themselves comprehensively gripped' Independent '[A] gripping psychological thriller . . . Harris is one of our most accomplished novelists' Daily Express 'Marvellously mischievous' Good Housekeeping 'A classic whodunnit with the characters carefully crafted and the tension at a knife edge' Sunday Express '[A] delicious black comedy' Daily Mail
Return to the world of the multi-million-copy bestselling Chocolat.... Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her 'special' child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend. But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse's relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder...
After thirty years at St Oswald's Grammar in North Yorkshire, Latin master Roy Straitley has seen all kinds of boys come and go. Each class has its clowns, its rebels, its underdogs, its 'Brodie' boys who, whilst of course he doesn't have favourites, hold a special place in an old teacher's heart. But every so often there's a boy who doesn't fit the mould. A troublemaker. A boy with hidden shadows inside. With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new broom has arrived at the venerable school, bringing Powerpoint, sharp suits and even sixth form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even twenty years on haunts his teacher's dreams. A boy capable of bad things.
Struggling to get back to UNIT HQ, his body being destroyed by radiation, the Third Doctor arrives in the most perfect English village, where everyone is happy. But is he really on Earth, or somewhere far more strange? As his body weakens, the Doctor and the Queen of the village begin to unravel the truth.
Vianne Rocher lebt mit ihren Tochtern auf einem Hausboot in Paris. Noch immer verzaubern ihre Schokoladenkreationen die Menschen. Eines Tages erhalt sie einen Brief. Ihre alte Freundin Armande bittet sie, zuruck nach Lansquenet zu kommen. Das Stadtchen braucht ihre Hilfe ... Der Duft von Pfirsichen und ein verheiungsvoller Wind treiben Vianne in Richtung Sden. Und wirklich, der kleine Ort ist zutiefst zerstritten, und ausgerechnet der Priester Reynaud scheint hinter allem zu stecken.
In 'Gastronomicon', Ernest's wife is a wonderful cook, aided by recipes from the ancient leather book - a family treasure - passed down to her by her mother-in-law. To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, she undertakes to cook a very special meal - but what are the sounds of deep pounding and tolling bells that come from beyond the kitchen wall? In 'The Ugly Wife' some important questions are posed: What does it feel like to be the Ugly Sister? Will she spend her life looking for love in vain? Or will she finally find her happily-ever-after: a man who sees past appearances and who will love her for who she really is?Part of the Storycuts series, these short stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'Auto-da-f ', a man's car defines him. Until the Rep of the Year, in his smart blue BMW, goes head-to- head in a showdown with V-man in his smug black Volvo saloon. But who is the real loser in this game?In 'Free Spirit', a wanderer, a party animal, goes wherever the wind blows, going home to bed with one person after another, old or young, healthy or corrupt, male or female. And then moves on, without regrets, without ever looking back...In 'Fule's Gold', Mr Fisher has taught at St Swithin's for over forty years, but is resigned to the total lack of imagination of the boys in his creative writing class. Until the day he opens one exercise book and discovers the Holy Grail of literature: an essay of total freshness and originality. But is it just too good to have been written by a mere schoolboy? Part of the Storycuts series, these three stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
Miss Golighty is no young Holly, and the supermarket caf where she regularly has breakfast is no Tiffany's. When she befriends Cheryl, the tarty young waitress and teaches her to love old films, she finds a way to help her young friend find the courage to seek a better new life.Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
It's not always fun playing the monster: after all, all you are is sword-fodder. But for the desperate, the misfit, the loner and the freak, dressing up in costume for the regular Saturday fantasy role-playing game in the woods is more satisfying than any reality. It's only make-believe, isn't it? It's not about life or death...or is it?Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'A Place in the Sun', Platinum is the beach everyone aspires to be on - the exclusive Beach of Beaches. Only the most beautiful bodies are permitted to enter. The old, the plain and the overweight have to accept that they will never be allowed in, in spite of all the facelifts, boob jobs and lipos that money can buy.In 'Al and Christine's World of Leather', Christine and Candy meet at Weightwatchers, and are soon firm friends. The knitting coven they start turns into a thriving hand knitting business, with Candy the designer, and Christine the workforce. But when Candy's designs turn to leather, and Christine starts wondering what the big flap in the trousers is for, their friendship starts to unravel... In 'The Spectator', elderly Mr Meadows, a retired teacher - before his profession was abolished - likes to take his morning walk past the school, ignoring the signs saying SCHOOL: NO UNACCOMPANIED ADULTS, because he innocently likes to watch the children playing. Surely there can't be any harm in that?Part of the Storycuts series, these short stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'Any Girl Can Be A Candykiss Girl!', the fashion house Candykiss listens to its consumer, the little girls, not their parents. Their pleasure is creating clothing for them to express themselves, never mind how contemptuous the adult generation - sexually and emotionally threatened - is of them.In 'Tea with the Birds', the worst crime of all is to be an outsider - wrong face, wrong clothes, wrong voice. And if you never raise your eyes from the ground, you will be labelled a snob by your neighbours. Yet when an isolated, lonely outcast meets a new tenant in the building of bedsits where she lives, she learns to spread her wings.In 'The G-SUS Gene', Oz 'Mad Dog' O'Shea is the Chosen One. Twenty years ago, mankind experienced near-total wipeout. Now only he is left to lead the quest for enlightenment.Part of the Storycuts series, these three short stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'Eau de Toilette', in her boudoir Madame, a famous eighteenth-century French beauty of dubious hygiene habits, awaits, en d shabill e, the hot water for her six-monthly bath. Will it help to return Monseigneur de Rochefort, her favourite admirer, back to her side?In 'Fish', Melissa and Jack are on their honeymoon in Naples, but things aren't going well between them. He longs to explore the sensuous riches of Neapolitan food, but she is a lactose-intolerant, wheat-allergic vegetarian, and has objections to every restaurant. Jack finally entices her to Casa Rosa, a small fish restaurant down by the harbour, but there the battle between food and love will really begin...In 'Never Give a Sucker...', Reggie Noakes was a vampire for seventy-five years, but he doesn't fit in any more, ousted by market forces. You're just the wrong kind of vampire, they tell him. He never liked blood that much anyway, it's a bugger trying to get any when you're fat and balding and no virgin would look at you twice.Part of the Storycuts series, these short stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'Faith and Hope Go Shopping', Faith has spent twenty years in a wheelchair. Together with her blind friend Hope, she lives in a nursing home. Their favourite carer calls them Butch and Sundance, and like their namesakes, they make a final dash for freedom - in pursuit of a copy of Lolita and a pair of slick red high heels.In 'Hello, Goodbye', Angela K. is a society columnist for Goodbye! Magazine, and gets to attend all of the season's most sensational Derni res: the most exclusive celebrity funerals. She prides herself on finally having joined the ranks of the Immortals - until a sad, badly-dressed old couple arrives to disrupt her world.Part of the Storycuts series, these stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'Last Train to Dogtown', Neil K. is a bestselling author, feted and acclaimed wherever he goes. Until the evening his train maroons him in the middle of nowhere, and after wandering into a bar, he is confronted by a group of characters who are all strangely familiar...In 'The Little Mermaid', every Tuesday is reserved for Freak Day at the pool, when the disabled, the impaired and the elderly come to bathe without disturbing the able-bodied. Sad Flipper, so deformed and ungainly in her wheelchair, is as agile and graceful as a dolphin in the water. But will she be tempted to sacrifice her uniqueness for love?Part of the Storycuts series, these two short stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
In 'Class of '81', when the graduates of wizardry school meet for their twenty-year reunion at Bella Pasta, the talk is all about love charms, cantrips, who has put on weight and who has had a body job. But one member of the group has sold out to a husband, home and children, thinking, 'Who needs magic when you can have security?' And yet - what really happens when the magic runs out?In 'Come in, Mr Lowry, your number is up!', numbers rule our lives, or so believes the insurance assessor in this tongue-in-cheek story. And that if you take into account all the statistics and calculate all the odds, chance will never play a part in what happens to you. But then fate, of all things, intervenes...Part of the Storycuts series, these two short stories were previously published in the collection Jigs & Reels.
'I'm still rather fond of this first book of mine, in spite of all the time that has elapsed, and in spite of the way my style has evolved.' Joanne Harris Caution - May contain vampires. It's never easy to face the fact that a man you once loved passionately has found the girl of his dreams, as Alice discovers when Joe introduces her to his new girlfriend. Then Alice finds an old diary and reads about two men and the mysterious woman who bewitched them both, buried in Grantchester churchyard half a century ago. As the stories seem to intertwine, Alice comes to realize that her instinctive hatred of Joe's new girlfriend may not just be due to jealousy, as she is plunged into a nightmare world of obsession, revenge, seduction - and blood.