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Klara Z

Joanne Harris

Any fans of Joanne Harris on here?

I've read all of her novels, apart from her latest, Blue Eyed Boy, which I've just started. I think this one might prove rather problematic, although the theme is brilliant. I will update my views when I've finished the book.

I have loved Joanne Harris's work in the past, although I haven't enjoyed all her books equally. 'Holy Fools' is my favourite.

I've read quite a lot of her books but I am not sure I would call myself a fan. Though I can't explain why that is. The one I liked best was 'Gentlemen and Players', although I spotted the twist a very long way off. I suppose I feel there is something self-indulgent in reading her books; they are not quite as serious and challenging as books I really adore.

I haven't heard of this latest one - no idea what the theme is.

Hard to know why but I have not read any Joanne Harris, though I have seen and enjoyed Chocolat.  Perhaps that is the problem; it seemed rather soft and slight, though lovely.

However the reviewer today on our radio reviewed Blue-Eyed Boy.  He said he wasn't a Joanne Harris fan, but in this book she was really pushing her boundaries and he recommended it.  It seems to be about an unlikeable family who are doing much of their living in cyberspace - it is a thriller.  The reviewer said all the characters are not what they seem and many of them aren't real at all.  The very good writing, the plot interest, short chapters and the thriller element, he said, kept the reader going even though the characters were unpleasant and the book somewhat too long.  He had been bothered that because he wasn't an internet person he would find the world of this novel too far outside his experience, but that proved not to be the case.

Cheers, Caro.
Jen M

Like Freyda, I've read a few of her books but would not consider myself a fan.  I have a friend who is a fan and who has given me Joanne Harris books for my birthday and Christmas, and passed on some she has finished with, but I don't think I would have sought them out to read otherwise.   Also like Freyda, my favourite was Gentlemen and Players, but I didn't spot the twist coming at all.  I quite liked Chocolat and Lollipop Shoes.

I didn't like Jigs and Reels, her book of short stories - they were too samey in that they were all quite weird, but then I'm not really a fan of short stories.
Green Jay

I too enjoyed Chocolat and a couple of the French country cooking ones  - I know they had plots, but that is how I think of them. They were nice to read in the winter, curled up, but you know what too much Chocolat does after a while...
Klara Z

I've now finished reading 'Blue Eyed Boy' and what a dark, disturbing read it was, very far removed from the world of 'Chocolat', but there was a Gothic vein in Joanne Harris's early work, The Evil Seed and Sleep, Pale Sister, so it's not so much a departure as a return.

Blue Eyed Boy is a psychological thriller, and much of the action is filtered through an imaginary internet site where 'BB' blogs on 'badguysrock' and other blogs are written by 'Albertine'. It's a difficult book, Joanne Harris has described it as a 'Rubik Cube' and you have to concentrate very hard to work out what's going on, and how the blogs relate to reality. I'm not even sure I got it all---I may have to re-read, but the ending didn't disappoint (I was very disappointed by the twist at the end of 'Gentleman and Players', a book I had been enjoying.) The setting is the same Yorkshire town as in G. and P. and Joanne Harris apparently researched the book by participating in various cyber communities---some of which (unlike Big Readers!) can be scary.
This book is not for the squeamish, and I did feel it could have been pruned a little---I felt the narrative sagged a bit after page 250 or so, and there was some repetition. Then, towards the end, it picked up.
In some ways, this book  reminded me of Barbara Vine, rather than the kind of book readers associate with Joanne Harris, and it might not be for everyone. But I hope others on this forum do read it so that we can share opinions.

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