I took a break from historical fiction for a bit and went on a thriller binge for awhile… but oh boy am I back!
I LOVED this book and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it. It’s historical fiction at its finest, with a really fun and intriguing mystery – so definitely incorporates 2 aspects I love to read about, while really heavy on another of my favorite things … wine!
“If you enjoyed Sarah’s Key and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, then this wonderful book by Ann Mah is for you.” — Tatiana de Rosnay
Kate’s family has been making wine at their French vineyard for generations. And although it’s been a long time since she has been back to visit, she still lives and breathes all things wine back home in San Francisco.
As she prepares to take The Test to hopefully become a Master of Wine, she decides to return to France and help her cousins on the vineyard, enhance her skills to prepare, all while avoiding a life and love from the past.
When Kate unearths a secret room in the vineyard’s basement, she uncovers more that just a few resistance pamphlets from the Nazi occupation, and rare bottles of wine from the WWII era.
What she discovers is an aunt she never knew she had, and some potentially damaging secrets that could change everything she knew about her family.
I loved, loved, loved this book! It drew me out of a reading slump with it’s elegant prose, it’s layered storylines and fresh and endearing characters.
The historical aspect was fascinating and so exquisitely detailed with aspects of the war I had no idea about. The mystery had me riveted and feverishly turning pages.
And it was such a delight to learn about french culture, food, and of course the wine and winemaking.
I felt transported to the vineyards in France and I never wanted to leave.
This book is available now in paperback! I cannot recommend it enough!
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 6, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062823329
- ISBN-13: 978-0062823328
About the book:
Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.
To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last chance. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife, Heather, who now oversee day-to-day management of the grapes. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a talented young winemaker and her first love.
At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousin clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of World War II and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.
As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection?
About Ann Mah
Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, and a novel, Kitchen Chinese. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Washingtonian magazine, and other media outlets.
Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours, William Morrow Books, and Ann Mah for the gifted book to review!