Summary and book reviews of The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker's Wife

by Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel X
The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel
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  • Published:
    Aug 2019, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Book Summary

A moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of northern France during the darkest days of World War II.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they'll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau's chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

MAY 1940
INÈS

The road snaked over the lush vineyards of Champagne as Inès Chauveau sped southwest out of Reims, clouds of dust ballooning in the wake of her glossy black Citroën, wind whipping ferociously through her chestnut hair. It was May, and already the vines were awakening, their buds like tiny fists reaching for the sun. In weeks they would flower, and by September, their grapes—pale green Chardonnay, inky Pinot Meunier, blueberry-hued Pinot Noir—would be plump and bursting for the harvest.

But would Inès still be here? Would any of them? A shiver ran through her as she braked to hug a curve, the engine growling in protest as she turned down the road that led home. Michel would tell her she was driving too quickly, too recklessly. But then, he was cautious about everything.

In June, it would be a year since they'd married, and she couldn't remember a day during that time that he hadn't gently chided her about something. I'm simply looking out ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. This novel takes place in the champagne-producing region of France. How does the location play into the plot? Is the setting crucial to the story, or could this book have taken place at any vineyard during World War II?
  2. Inès 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 Inès's predicament, or were you frustrated by her focus on her own problems? Or a mix of both?
  3. Michel is not very attentive to Inès and doesn't notice her attempts to be useful. However, he pays very close attention to Céline. Why do you think Michel was so frustrated with Inès?
  4. Inès looks inward for much of the novel, and as a result, ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The novel has a fairly predictable story, but it shares the lesser-known tale of the French winemakers and their role in fighting back against the Nazis. Although these specific events are fictional, Harmel is able to bring life to the landscape and the people of the Champagne region of France through her intricate descriptions of winemaking and her vivid depictions of the vineyards and the wine cellars.   (Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Full Review Members Only (779 words).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A somewhat entertaining but mostly predictable story; Champagne fans and readers who can't get enough WWII fiction will probably still enjoy it.

Author Blurb Pam Jenoff, NYT bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
Love and betrayal, forgiveness and redemption combine in a heady tale of the ever present past…fantastic!

Author Blurb Armando Lucas Correa, bestselling author of The German Girl
With exceptional skill, Kristin Harmel constructs The Winemaker's Wife between the past and the present, giving equal weight and importance to both, all the while weaving a tale full of secrets and betrayals that puts to the test mankind's strength, fragility and vileness. Once you start reading this moving novel, you will not be able to put it down until you reach the last page.

Author Blurb Anita Hughes, bestselling author of Christmas in Paris
Written in heart-wrenching prose, The Winemaker's Wife is a complex story of love, betrayal and impossible courage set in the champagne growing region of France during World War II. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and savored every moment at the same time.

Author Blurb Alyson Noël, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Saving Zoe
What could be better than a story of champagne, secrets, lies, and history from a writer as compulsively readable as Kristin Harmel? Pick up this epic and heart-wrenching WWII tale immediately!

Reader Reviews

SA

You won’t want to put this novel set in World War II France down!
Full disclosure: the members of my book club each received a free proof of this book through the galley match program ( #GalleyMatch or @gallerybooks ) before it’s release in return for our honest feedback. This well written historical novel is ...   Read More

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Do Not Miss Reading This Book
France, wine, WWII, present day, and love - all of this wrapped into one amazing, difficult-to-put-down read. We meet Inez, Celine, Michel, Thor, Liv, and Liv's French grandmother, Edith, as the story moves back and forth in time. We find out ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

WWII French Winemakers' Resistance

A wine cellar filled with stacked barrels of wineIn The Winemaker's Wife, Inés Chauveau's life is turned upside down by the declaration of World War II and the Germans' arrival at her husband's vineyard. Instead of making a profit from their wines, the Chauveaus are expected to give their product to the Germans, and while Inés is prepared to do whatever it takes to get through the war with as little trouble as possible, her husband wants to fight back. His actions lead to a world of secrets, danger and betrayal, but his decision to resist reflects the stories of many real men and women in the vineyards of France during WWII.

French winemakers, also known as vintners, began preparing as soon as war was officially declared in September 1939. Many were familiar with the ...

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