Review of 'Blackberry Wine'

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

blackberry_wine.jpg Jay Mackintosh is obsessed with his childhood relationship with Joe an enigmatic old man that taught him much about life and, er, gardening. So much so that Jay has become a famous author of a book detailing this relationship. Chasing the ghost of the man he once knew Jay one day decides to leave his wife and life in London to move to a house in the small community of Lansquenet in rural France. While there he is intrigued by his mysterious neighbour Marise as well as haunted by the ghost of his long-lost friend who encourages him. In this atmosphere he starts writing about the characters from the village. The words come naturally to him but is he telling the whole story? Should he be writing or should he be living?

A fairly easy read though with a number of aspects that make it a bit different from other works of Harris including the conceit of having some of the narrative driven from the perspective of a bottle of wine and the use of a ghost providing advice to the protagonist. The story is tried and true: One of self discovery though it ends in a somewhat unexpected, but satisfying, way. Not with high drama but with medium drama, perhaps.

Reading the book I often wanted to bash Jay over the head at his inability to see what is plainly before his face and for the way he seems to obsess over a past long since gone though, admittedly, has dramatically effected his life. The story switches alternatively between his experiences with Joe in 1977 in England and his new life in France in 1999 which is a bit confusing at times but, of course, it all ties together nicely in the end. Yes, I was routing for some sort of resolution for Jay and ended up being fairly interested to see where it was all going.

I can't say it is on the top of my “must read” pile but “Blackberry Wine” was entertaining with it's mild sense of mystery and quite interesting plot with a few twists along the way. A melodrama, certainly, and I was quite mellow about it generally as well…only peaking my interest as the story came to a resolution at the end.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2018-05-10

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Black Swan

Publication Date: 2000

ISBN: 0552998001

Other reviewed books by Joanne Harris: