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The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch

Source: Caitlin Hamilton Marketing and She Writes Press
Paperback, 368 pgs
On Amazon and on Kobo

The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch is set in Loire, France, in 1895 on the Thibault vineyards, as a family struggles to revive their grapes after a blight rocked the industry.  Sara has dreams of becoming a vintner like her father, and he has cultivated those dreams, allowing her to work the vines and learn all that she can from Jacques, the foreman.  She keeps a seasonal notebook about each harvest and process for making the wine, but when a blight threatens their harvest once again and the set price for barrels offered by the Lemieux family is too low to pay the vineyard’s debts, her father makes a fateful decision that changes the course of the entire family’s lives.  Harnisch clearly knows wine, vineyards, and the trade itself; her research is in depth and adds layers to her narrative.  Her characters are dynamic and engaging, and readers will be drawn into the Thibault family and cheer for them to triumph over the rival Lemieux family.

“Upon Jacques’s return, Sara wished him adieu and lifted her skirts to trudge through the mud between the vines toward the other end of the field.  There she hunched over to examine one of the vines more closely.  She ran her fingers over the leaves’ withering edges, fearing the worst.  She took her knife from her belt and split the vine’s bark.  With the tip of her blade, she scraped out hundreds of translucent eggs that lined the interior of the vine.  Some had already hatched, producing the dreaded pale yellow insects that were now sucking the vine dry.”  (page 8 ARC)

Fleeing France with her sister, Lydia (who resembles the Lydia of Pride & Prejudice in some ways), Sara finds herself adrift in New York City and reliant on the kindness of a convent and the church.  In their highly regimented life, she learns of the lush land in California and its vineyards, and she finally begins to dream of a way in which she can reclaim her family’s lost fortune.  While she’s making plans, she’s swept up in a different life, assisting a midwife.  As she learns to hold her ground in this more modern world in which women are making their own way, Sara is even more confident that she can right the wrongs done to her family.  When tragedy strikes again, Sara is forced to remain strong and to do what she thinks is best as she runs from the specter of the guillotine.

The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch is a fascinating look at the business of vineyards right around the time of prohibition in the United States and during the suffrage movement for women.  Sara comes into her own in the New World, and she learns what it is she truly has lost when she is pushed back to France by her boss in California.  Harnisch has crafted a emotional journey of a young woman coming into her own in the modern world and learning to forgive and be forgiven.  Stunning debut.

About the Author:

Kristen Harnisch’s ancestors emigrated from Normandy, France, to Canada in the 1600s. She is a descendant of Louis Hebert, who came to New France from Paris with Samuel de Champlain and is considered the first Canadian apothecary. She has a degree in economics from Villanova University and now lives in Connecticut. The Vintner’s Daughter, her debut novel, is the first in a series about the changing world of vineyard life at the turn of the century.

29th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

 

56th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

  • Kristen H.

    Thank you, Serena, for taking the time to read and review The Vintner’s Daughter! Writing this novel was a pleasure (and researching it was even more fun). I hope you all enjoy this escape to wine country! Kristen

  • Holly (2 Kids and Tired)

    I can’t wait to read this one.

  • Anna

    This sounds fascinating! I may have to borrow this one from you.

  • Emma @ Words And Peace

    sounds like another great novel on France and wine!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    This sounds perfect for my mom.

  • Mystica

    Like the sound of this one. Both characters and setting as well