The Winemaker’s Wife – by: Kristin Harmel

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Gallery Books; Canadian Export edition (July 9 2019)

ISBN-13: 978-1982129880

Synopsis: 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.

* * *

I have been a fan of Kristin Harmel since I read “The Room on Rue Amelie” in one single day, so I know I just had to read this book when it came out. The Winemaker’s Wife follows three women that span decades – Ines and Sarah, both in war-torn France trying to survive the trying times, and Liv, living in present day America, trying to find her place in the world, unknowing her connection to histories most deadly war.

This novel does an outstanding job of highlighting what life was like for the wine-keepers during the Second World War – how occupied France fought to keep control of vineyards, most of which that had be around for centuries, and how they found their own ways to defy the Nazis. The three women are all very unique in their voice and different from each other, which made it very easy to keep their stories separate and keep their characters separated in my mind. I really loved the approach Harmel took telling the story of the Vineyards in France. While I have read a couple books before that took place in the France Vineyards during WWII, this book felt thoroughly researched and felt very real.

This story literally sucked me in – same as Harmel’s other books. I could not put it down. I had to know how the story would end and what would happen to the characters I had fallen in love with. One small complaint I have is that the title gave away a part of the book to me; this was something I found a little disappointing, however, I still really enjoyed the book and even with this minor title spoiler, I still LOVED this book and will definitely be recommending to fans of historical fiction!

Rating: 9/10 

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