The story follows Kate as she is studying for her Master of Wine exam (which is apparently super hard). She travels back to Burgundy, France to spend some time with her family (who are wine makers) and to get a feel for the wines of the region. During her visit she uncovers a picture of a girl and some notebooks which start Kate and her family on a quest to find out more about this mystery girl.
The story of the girl is woven in the novel through journal entries that she made when she was young, prior to and during the German occupation of France.
There are so many layers to this novel and the author handles them so well they they never become burdensome or too much. On one level the book is about coming to terms with your past and embracing your history – even if that history is uncomfortable.
The book is also, obviously, about wine. One of my favourite movies is ‘Sideways’. In it, one of the characters Maya, played by Virginia Madsen, when asked how she got into wine, she talks about what was happening the year the wine was made, about the weather and the sun and how the winemaker was. And that she could taste all of that in the wine. This book reminded me of that speech. The way the author speaks and portrays the winemakers and the process shows their love of the land, and of their heritage and of the craft of winemaking.
The love of the land and of country is also echoed in the story of the girl in the picture. What would you be wiling to do to save and protect your land and your heritage? And when does the line of right and wrong get blurred?
I really enjoyed reading this book. For me it was a page turner. It is sometimes difficult to follow a story when it flips back and forth between history and ‘present day’. The author did a great job in keeping the stories separate, but intermingled. I never felt confused, or that the narratives didn’t belong together.
If you are interested in wine, or France or WW2, or just want a compelling and interesting story, this book if for you.
I gave it a 5/5 star rating on Goodreads.
Full disclosure: I received this eARC from Edelweiss for a fair and honest review. (Thanks Edelweiss!)