Some books are so good, you can’t stop reading until you know the whole story.
I try to read books that will enlighten my mind, teach me something new, make me smarter. And those books? I can put them down pretty quickly.
But, the engaging books with a story, (usually fiction,) when I need to turn the next page: those are the books I end up finishing.
This was one of those books for me. I had to know what happened next.
The Winemaker’s Wife Summary
The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristen Harmel is a historical fiction of two generations, one set in 1940 and the other in 2019. The story centers around Inés, a newlywed just starting her life with Michel, owner of the champagne house Maison Chauveau. (This is a fictitious winery.) The Germans invade France, loot the wineries, and oversee wine production in Champagne. Through the story of the Inés, Harmel helps you imagine life under Nazi rule – and all of the doubts, fears, violence, and risks the French endured.
While the story is fictional, I kept looking up the historical facts about the time period in France. For instance, the French champagne makers resisted the Nazis by sending champagne in dirty bottles. Articles and history can certainly tell the facts. However, only a story like this can help us imagine what that time must have felt like to the people living in it. I looked up several of the tidbits, as Veuve Cliquot and Moët and Chandon are both mentioned in the book as part of the Resistance. It turns out, Count Robert‐Jean de Vogue, head of Moët and Chandon at the time, was part of the Resistance and sent to a concentration camp for two years until liberated. Champagne’s history is so much more interesting after reading this book.
The story weaves in a newly divorced Liv in 2019. Her rich aunt fliers her over to France rather than let her dwell on the husband who just left her. You’ll quickly suspect the two stories are connected – but how and why is the surprising twist.
This would be an excellent vacation read, or just to curl up in your favorite pajamas on the weekend. But you should definitely chill a bottle of champagne to enjoy while you read!! (Looking for recommendations? Here’s a breakdown of sparkling wine vs champagne, with a list of wines to pick up from your local grocery store or Total Wine!)
The Winemaker’s Wife
by Kristin Harmel