If every piece about Joanne Harris starts by reminding us that she is the author of Chocolat, she can live with that. It might be close to a quarter of a century ago, but it was a dazzling success and made her a household name, while the film adaptation took her to the Oscars, where Alfred Molina made sure that she was included in all the invitations.
Every one of her novels since Chocolat has been a best-seller, and it is safe to assume that Broken Light will also be a big hit.
A seven year old girl is taken to a magic show which shows her an uncovenanted possibility. This was an age, as she says, when magic was easier than maths, and the magician’s assistant whispers in her ear “Little girl. Make them look.” Half a lifetime later, she will.
The strapline for Broken Light says that it is about the invisibility of women, and of course it is, although that sells it rather short. Without any descent into polemic, it is about half a dozen contemporary issues, and rather wonderfully about itself. When she becomes menopausal Bernie Ingram rediscovers her unexpected power, and her world doesn’t know what has hit it.
Joanne has said that Broken Light goes where Stephen King’s Carrie might have gone if Carrie had been a menopausal woman instead of an adolescent girl, and, as Tim observes, if it had been written by a woman.