Book Club: The Winemaker’s Wife

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.

The Winemaker's Wife by [Kristin Harmel]
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.

You can find the book HERE on Amazon.
You can find a listing of all of the author’s books HERE.

If you haven’t already read them, I strongly recommend these two as there are my favorite.
The Book of Lost Names HERE.
When We Meet Again HERE.


12 thoughts on “Book Club: The Winemaker’s Wife”

  1. I read this and enjoyed it although I felt impatience with Inez’s immaturity. I did feel differently toward her by the end. She learned some hard truths . I don’t think she was ever able to forgive herself for what she saw as betrayal although I’m not sure others would feel the same. I also read The Book of Lost Names by this author and I think I enjoyed that a bit more. On the whole I’ll give the book 4.5 stars.

  2. The setting of this book in the champagne region of France just as the Germans begin their occupation was interesting and well written. This was my third book of Kristin Harmel‘s (The Book of Lost Names, The Room on Rue Amelie) and I will read more. Of these three, however, I would put this one in third place—the characters were not just flawed but annoying and unappealing to me. Ines’ definitely grew in character and redeemed herself, not only because of her work in the resistance but because she brought her granddaughter back to resume the family’s place in their champagne business, House of Chauveau. It was a great twist at the end to learn the Edith was Ines. I also liked the developing relationship of the present day Liv Kent and her grandmother’s young attorney(?). I’d give it a 4.2, still worth reading. Thank you for introducing me to this author, Jo!

  3. Bonnie in CT

    Hi Jo,
    I just finished listening to “The Winemaker’s Wife.” I ended up loving the book. I have to say I stopped listening for a bit as Ines was just too needy and shallow, to me and I got tired of her! I’m glad i did listen to the rest of the book. Parts really kept me guessing and I loved how it all played out. Thanks for all the great book recommendations.

  4. For the most part I enjoyed this book. I don’t always enjoy books that jump around in time andI did find it frustrating a few times. I also guessed early on who Edith/Inez was and I got a bit impatient with her game playing.
    I would read other books by this author and would give this one a 4.3 .

  5. My Kindle loan hold at our library says the book will be available in 24 weeks so it must be very popular. I look forward to reading it. Thanks for the book recommendations, Jo!

  6. Paula Y James

    Can’t say that Inez’s redeemed herself, but probably was trying to do so. Even in her own mind I don’t think she felt that she did. If only we can take back the stupid things we all do when we are young. She steps up and does what is right for her granddaughter. Again, if only she could have done that earlier in her life so Liv could have enjoyed both the vineyard and her grandmother. Loved the quirkiness of the old lady.

  7. I agree with Roxanne’s review – characters were annoying, even whiny at times. Too much betrayal. Jo, thanks for recommending this author. I’ve now devoured 6 of her books. Didn’t think historical fiction was my genre but I’ve enjoyed reading them. She’s a fine storyteller and I always feel like I learn something from the setting.

  8. Paula Y James

    I agree Gloria B. Historical fiction is great to read. Sometimes it’s hard to find an author who writes more than just one or two. Great find in Kristin Harmel.

  9. I really enjoyed this book. I’m on a mission to read others by this author. I loved the setting. In addition to learning more about the resistance effort, I thought the wine aspect was fascinating.

  10. I enjoyed the book. I did get irritated by Ines whining but also felt like her husband was part of her problem. I liked learning about the war in France and the champagne process. Also I enjoy books that have a twist at the end. Looking forward to reading the next book club book.

  11. Janine Baker

    I enjoyed reading this book. It was my first by this author, but I will definitely be looking for others.
    I felt like Ines had led a pretty sheltered life, then right to marriage. I believe her husband did not help her in trying to adapt to her current life/situation. I did find her to be too clueless at times and careless given the situations they were living. I regret that she didn’t share more of her past history with her Granddaughter before it was too late, but overall, I felt she redeemed herself in her resistance work. She did what she could with what she had. Of course, I was elated that she found a love match with the lawyer!
    Thanks for the suggestion, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Hugs to you,

  12. I enjoyed the book. I sympathized with Ines. She was sheltered and unexperienced in life and very naïve. I believe in the end she did all that she could to help correct the results of her mistakes. I did not figure out her secret until right up before it was revealed. I have read several WWII books lately. They continue to amaze me. I guess I am pretty naïve too. I know war is terrible. I know this war was especially horrific. The things people endured continue to amaze me. I thank God I have never had to suffer like they did.

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