This seems to have been the season for books, both fiction and non-fiction, focusing on France during World War II.
One of the best I’ve read is The Winemaker’s Daughter by Kristin Harmel.
I don’t use the words “engrossing” and “spellbinding” lightly, but they certainly apply here.
The novel fluctuates between France in 1940 and New York in 2019.
In 1940, France is already under the control of Nazi Germany. The Maison Chauveau is a champagne house nestled among the rolling vineyards near Reims, France. When not under the threat of war and concentration camps, it is an idyllic spot with various wineries in the region taking great pride in their products.
Michel is the owner of Maison Chauveau and Ines is his young, beautiful wife. Working with Michel is Theo and his wife Celine. Michel, Theo, and Celine work well together in the caves, leaving Ines to her own devices. Frustrated and increasingly angry at being treated like a child who can’t learn the business she determines to make a change.
But then the Germans arrive.
Soon rumors swirl of Jewish townspeople being rounded up and sent to unspeakable fates. Even Ines realizes her personal problems pale in comparison.
Meanwhile, Celine feels lost too, like Ines, but for different reasons. Celine’s heritage is part Jewish and she receives word of the arrests of her parents and grandfather. More and more fearful, she grows increasingly terrified, especially after a Nazi officer takes an interest in her.
As the days turn into weeks and then into months, both Celine and Ines make terrible choices in their desperate hunger for happiness. As a result, their lives and the lives of those they love, quickly are at peril.
Interspersed between this story is that of Liv Kent, still reeling after her husband of 15 years abandons her for a younger woman. Frustrated with Liv’s lack of initiative, her feisty 99-year-old French grandmother shows up unannounced with plane tickets for a flight to Paris. They are to leave within hours.
Before she knows it Liv arrives in France where she slowly begins to learn the long buried secrets of her French relatives. As she does, she also reawakens to life and all it has to offer.
Stokely Memorial Library now has The Winemaker’s Wife. Whatever you do, DON’T skip ahead to the ending! It’s a humdinger!
Located at 383 East Broadway, Stokely Memorial Library is open Mondays—Saturdays from 10-5 and may be reached by telephone at 423-623-3832.