I have been singing the praises of author Kristin Harmel and asked you to join me in reading her book, The Winemaker’s Wife, and joining me for a book club review. Today is the day for us to get together and chat.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
“At the dawn of the Second World War, Inès is the young wife of Michel, owner of the House of Chauveau, a small champagne winery nestled among rolling vineyards near Reims, France. Marrying into a storied champagne empire was supposed to be a dream come true, but Inès feels increasingly isolated, purposely left out of the business by her husband; his chef de cave, Theo; and Theo’s wife, Sarah.
But these disappointments pale in comparison to the increasing danger from German forces pouring across the border. At first, it’s merely the Nazi weinführer coming to demand the choicest champagne for Hitler’s cronies, but soon, there are rumors of Jewish townspeople being rounded up and sent east to an unspeakable fate. The war is on their doorstep, and no one in Inès’s life is safe – least of all Sarah, whose father is Jewish, or Michel, who has recklessly begun hiding munitions for the Résistance in the champagne caves. Inès realizes she has to do something to help.
Sarah feels as lost as Inès does, but she doesn’t have much else in common with Michel’s young wife. Inès seems to have it made, not least of all because as a Catholic, she’s “safe.” Sarah, on the other hand, is terrified about the fate of her parents – and about her own future as the Germans begin to rid the Champagne region of Jews. When Sarah makes a dangerous decision to follow her heart in a desperate bid to find some meaning in the ruin, it endangers the lives of all those she cares about – and the champagne house they’ve all worked so hard to save.
In the present, Liv Kent has just lost her job – and her marriage. Her wealthy but aloof Grandma Edith, sensing that Liv needs a change of scenery before she hits rock bottom, insists that Liv accompany her on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive – and some difficult but important information to share with her granddaughter. As Liv begins to uncover long-buried family secrets, she finds herself slowly coming back to life. When past and present intertwine at last, she may finally find a way forward, along a difficult road that leads straight to the winding caves beneath the House of Chauveau.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network, The Winemaker’s Wife is an evocative and gorgeously wrought novel that examines how the choices we make in our darkest hours can profoundly change our lives – and how hope can come from the places we least expect.”
Now for some questions for us to chat about…
Liv has her own struggles, including dealing with the end of her marriage. How does her situation compare with Ines’s predicament?
Ines struggles with her place at the Maison Chauveau. She feels disrespected by her husband and left out of everything important. Did you feel sympathy for Ines’s predicament, or were you frustrated by her focus on her own problems? Or a mix of both?
The selfishness Ines displays has dire consequences at the end of the book. Do you think her work in the Resistance redeemed her?
Feel free to leave a comment about any of these questions or just give a review of your own about the book…or simply tell how many stars you’d give the book on a 5.0 rating with 5.0 being the highest.
Me, I loved the book. I have to say if I had read this as a younger person, I might have looked less sympathetically on Ines. As an older person now I see how choices of youth might not have been the same choices of a person who is older, have more sympathy for her. I also wonder if Ines really revealed anything. I like to give her the benefit of the doubt. I like to think she awoke after being with the German and the German simply tricked her. Saying she said something when she really didn’t. Then she actually revealed the secret in her response.
More than anything, this is a story of redemption and forgiveness. I’d like to believe that I could be forgiving as both Ines and Celine were.
It’s your turn…please leave a comment if you read the book and want to join in.