READER REPORT:

I've just finished reading... Blue Eyed Boy

SARAH HARDIE
Last updated 05:00 25/09/2012
Blue eyed boy
A SHOCK: Joanne Harris changes course.

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“Once there was a widow with three sons, and their names were Black, Brown and Blue. Black was the eldest; moody and aggressive. Brown was the middle child, timid and dull. But Blue was his mother's favourite. And he was a murderer.”

Those of you who know popular authors will on hearing the name Joanne Harris probably think Chocolat. A wonderfully romantic tale about chocolate, love, and a little bit of magic set in the picturesque french town of Lansquenet. And who could forget the movie - you know, that one where you've never seen Johnny Depp look so sexy.

When I love an author and come across book sales or bargain bins, I'll snap up their books not caring what they're about. This is how I found Blue Eyed Boy and let me tell you, it was a surprise.

Blue, known online as Blueeyedboy, plays out his murder fantasies on an online forum and his obsession with Albertine, with whom he shares a dark past, consumes his entire life - just as this book will consume yours.

I expected a slightly twisted, odd and surprising read from Harris, having read a couple of her books including Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, and Blackberry Wine, but this one really threw me. A couple of times when I picked up the book, I even wondered to myself: "Should I even be reading this? Should I really be reading about some twisted, lonely, disturbed middle-aged man’s murder fantasies? Should anyone?"

It’s like when we pick up a newspaper or open a news website – we know we shouldn’t get excited when someone gets murdered, but as soon as we see the words "murder" or "homicide" in a headline, it’s the first story we read. If there’s anything I learned as a journalist, it’s that bad news sells.

So though it was a major change from what I usually read, and despite the "wow that sounds really sadistic" response from my partner when I read him the synopsis, I continued reading and somehow ended up liking the sadistic man in question, aka blueeyedboy - murder fantasies, cowardice and all. That was, until the end - an ending that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't guess, and one that I won't ruin for you except to say this - it's good.

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I met Joanne Harris recently when she came to Wellington promoting her new book, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure, and, at the event, someone asked the question: "I have read the ending of Blue Eyed Boy over and over and I can't figure out what actually happens in the end - how is it supposed to end?"

I guess Harris has a pretty open-minded view of endings - I mean, she intended to finish Vianne's story at Chocolat, but she's written two more books about her because both she and Vianne had "unfinished business" with Lansquenet. And she may or may not write another one.

To the person who asked about the ending of Blue Eyed Boy, she simply said that the reader has to make up their own mind in the end.

So, if you want to challenge your morals and question your faith in introverts, and if you don't mind tearing your hair out at at the end, I suggest you pick up this book, but pick it up with an open mind as you should any Joanne Harris book, because you never know what damning twist she’s got waiting for you around the corner.


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