Celebrating Joanne Harris
As part of my blog in 2023, until it reaches 5 years old in September, I will be celebrating an author or publisher every so often. Join me as I celebrate works of Joanne Harris. Here, after a little about her, are some links to some reviews of books I’ve read whilst writing a blog.
Joanne Harris has written over 25 books, features in many anthologies, has audiobooks, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical, attends book festivals and comic cons, judges competition, holds doctorates to universities, is a member of The Storytime Band and is the current Chair of Society of Authors. She has a great website you can browse here: Website
I have been reading books by Joanne Harris across 2 decades and always been impressed by the calibre of writing and ability to tell so many stories in different genres. She also gives author talks at book festivals, which are always fascinating and it is always an absolute pleasure to meet her.
Below is a photo of the books I own. It’s a mixture of books I have bought, been given as a present from family members and those gifted by her publishers – Orion Books and Gollancz. Also, discover what her new book at the end of this blog post… I have not got it yet, but it’s exciting to see that cover…
Joanne Harris has something for everyone. The genres span across cookery books, gothic contemporary fiction, romantic fiction, historical fiction psychological thrillers, short stories, folklore/fantasy each with compelling plots with human nature, community and issues of the day in many universal themes. The range in-which she writes in is impressive and admirable to say the least, each with much to explore in setting, characterisation and plot in general. There is that je-ne-sais-quoi in every single book that makes them compelling and terribly hard to put down, once opened, from the first to the last page.
Her stories don’t only stop at book or audiobook form, she also writes some short stories on her Twitter account (where she also talks about her shed in the most imaginative ways possible, a series of ten things that often consists of useful tips and advice on writing etc, amongst other things). She formed a band called the Storytime Band. I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the Storytime band, but it sounds great and another medium of her telling stories. The band consists of Paul Marshall: Keyboards, guitar, vocals, Kevin Harris: Drums, percussion, vocals. Duncan Parsons : Bass, effects, Joanne Harris: Flute, vocals.
As you meander down, I have included links to some reviews I wrote on my blog, they are by no means all the books I’ve ever read by Joanne Harris, but those I read and reviewed from the time I began my blog to the time of writing this blog post.
The Strawberry Thief is part of the Chocolat series. The order of which is: Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curè, The Strawberry Thief.
A series set in rural France, follows Vianne and her daughter, Anouk and later her other daughter Rosette. The series is a feast to the senses and a delightful look into society. It shows certain traditions and attitudes to newcomers, new ideas, different perspectives. There’s a traditional small community feel, friendships forged and naysayers gained and much to win over. The series sees the family’s journey evolve when they go to Paris in The Lollipop Shoes and eventually they return to small town life in Lansquenette-Sous-Tannes in The Strawberry Thief. There’s much imagery in the series. There’s a sense of certain things staying the same , such as Roux staying on his boat, where readers meet him in Chocolat and it is lent again, but there is also change in the air. People mellow and also grow up. There is now Rosette, who is known as Vianne’s “special child”, who is now one of the main focuses in what is another delightful book.
I have my full review of The Strawberry Thief, which I remember racing to buy, including the blurb in the link: The Strawberry Thief
A Narrow Door is part of her Psychological Thriller series – BlueEyedBoy, Gentlemen and Players, Different Class, A Narrow Door.
The series follow the characters in an all boys grammar school – St. Oswalds, in England. Every book is immersive and twisty. They all give great insight into the world of a boys grammar school. BlueEyed Boy also has music you can look up to accompany each chapter. As well as school life, it also shows the online world. Gentlemen and Players and Different Class takes you further into St. Oswalds, Roy Straitley and the pupils. As you delve further, you reveal more about the personalities of the characters and how everyone has a story to tell or is part of a story. A Narrow Door however shows a changing of times. A new headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast, but some of the staff such as Mr Straitley is the same and he has his followers in who are dubbed as “The Brodie Boys”. It is a powerful book of strong female character and it tackles patriarchy, but also within this comes a wonderfully sinister, complex and twisty psychological thriller.
Each of the books in the series are beautifully written.
Find out the blurb and my full review in the link: A Narrow Door
Joanne Harris also appeared at Bloody Scotland as part of her book tour with A Narrow Door. Here is the link to the blog tour I took part in for Bloody Scotland championing her: Bloody Scotland
The Blue Salt Road is a modern fairy story and yet also takes on The Child Ballads. Although there are a few – A Pocketful of Crows, The. Blue Salt Road, Orfeia, Honeycomb they are standalone. She writes these as Joanne M. Harris. They are mythical and fantastical with strong themes and storytelling.
The Blue Salt Road tells the story a Selkie, The Folk (humans) and the Kraken. There is however, 1 named human.
It is thought provoking about the natural world. It is emotional, romanticises nothing. There are gorgeous illustrations by Bonnie M. Hawkins.The drawings are expressive in this and Orfeia and perfectly illustrate and add to the mystique and emotions of the intriguing books that certainly piqued my curiosity and then grabbed me.
Check out the blurb and my full review in the link: Blue Salt Road
ORFEIA takes on another Child Ballad. It tackles grief and incredibly well. Queen of May had fallen in love with a man from the Folk and sacrificed a lot, so the tale goes. The grief of the loss of a child hits right to your soul. There is also the intriguing character of The Shadow Man. There are also atmosphere changes as there are jovial moments. It’s a richly, tightly woven story that also brings hope. It is again with more marvellous and dark drawings from Bonnie M. Hawkins. Find out the blurb and full review in the link: ORFEIA
Honeycomb is just one of the short story books Joanne Harris has written. Jigs and Reels and A Cat, A Hat, A Piece of String are others with some humorous tales to tell as well as emotional and rather serious ones. There are a couple of witty recurring characters.
Honeycomb – for this particular copy has a rather beautiful tactile material cover. It is enchanting book of 100 short stories. They are full of betrayal, gifts, magic, love, beautiful illustrations, this time by Charles Vess.
The book invites you listen to the tales of the bees, each one loosely interconnecting and overarching. Readers have a treat in relatable stories and with characters such as the Honeycomb Queen and the Lacewing King, a Chancellor, a Teacher, the Slightless Folk and the Silken Folk, Death and more…
The book is compelling as well as well as thought-provoking. They may be mythical fairytales, but each makes relatable points and doesn’t steer too far away from the world as we know it as it’s a very grounded book.
Discover the blurb and full review in the link: Honeycomb