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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 7 star ratings
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    Amazing Historical Fiction

    I have always thought WWII was my time but I am coming to realize that WWI was just as intriguing. I love hearing about the history of a place that has always been known for its amazing champagne but has so much more history to learn about. The letters that were read in the present time bring to light a history story that you would never find in a classroom and makes the WWI era so much more real. The art of writing letters is lost to many with all the present technology but in the time of war that was the only way to send messages of love and support to those who were fighting. I love that people stepped up and wrote to the soldiers that they didn’t even know, it proved that humanity was strong even when the world was at war. Love could withstand anything, friendships were formed, and unfortunately, friendships were lost but most of all people cared, they wanted to help in even the smallest way and were willing to do whatever they could to support the soldiers in their times of need. The present story of Rosalyn was just as important. She was grieving the loss of her husband, working a job that she didn’t love, and traveling to a place that she didn’t enjoy. In France, she found new friendships, discovered that she did like champagne, and learned that she could be happy again. She also helped a new friend solve the mystery of her ancestry. Rosalyn put herself in positions that were uncomfortable and learned that a little discomfort can have great results. I was excited to see her grow and open her heart up to new friendships. The Vineyards of Champagne is an amazing historical fiction book with the dual timelines, the wonderful settings, and the amazing characters it is a must-read.
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    A special book for me

    I thought The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell was going to be your typical pleasant vacation in France with a side of historical fiction (World War I) enjoyable winter reading book. While it was that for sure, the setting was lovely, I enjoyed feeling like I was spending time in France and brushing up on my French language skills. But, the thing about Rosalyn is she is a widow who has been stuck living in her grief and unable to move forward, and that is what the book is really about. This was timely for me, having just lost my dad six weeks ago, and just beginning the journey with grief. Instead of making me feel worse, this book was comforting to me. Reading about others in this space felt less lonely. The premise of the book involves a woman, Rosalyn, who is working for a wine seller in California and is sent to France to a month to seek our new vineyards to sell in the shop in the U.S. So Rosalyn goes to spend a month in France and while there begins working through the grief process in a way she couldn’t at home and opening herself up to friendships and new adventures. While on her flight, Rosalyn meets Emma, who is going to France to find the letters her great-aunt wrote to a French soldier during World War I. A small part of the story is that of this young man, Emile, and a young woman, Lucie, living through the war in France, partially told through letters. It is a smaller part of the book than Rosalyn’s story, but weaves in well with Rosalyn’s story to form the main plot of the book. I guess this story may not be for everyone, but it was certainly the right book for me at the right time. For me, this is 5 stars and one of my favorites this year. I recommend this book for anyone. I did get a free copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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    Historical Fiction

    France 1916, the German’s fought hard to take the town of Reims, when the French army push them back, the German army start shelling the town nonstop and they totally destroyed it. The town’s residents have no choice but to take shelter and live in the chalky caves that are used to store the areas famous bubbly champagne. Lucie Marechal, her mother and father are all living in the caves, their beautiful home has been destroyed and they have nowhere else to live and its safer underground. The women and children venture out at night to harvest the grapes and they need to stay very close to the ground or they risk being shot at by the German snipers. In present day, Rosalyn Acosta travels to Champagne to speak to grape growers for her Napa based employer and friend Hugh. Hugh is not just her boss, he was her late husband’s best friend and he has been her rock since her husband Dash passed away. Rosalyn doesn't drink champagne, she’s a red wine girl, she’s not very keen to visit France again and she reluctantly boards the plane. Much to her horror, she’s seated next to a very chatting Australian woman called Emma Kinsley, who’s traveling to France to try and solve the hundred year old mystery of why her great aunt wrote letters to a young French soldier during the Great War? Emma quickly offers Rosalyn a job translating the letters after she discovers she hates her job, but she refuses, she can't let Hugh down and while Emma is sleeping on the long flight she can’t help but start reading and translating them. She and Emma both end up staying in the same village called Cochet in the Champagne region, they set out to solve the mystery of why Doris a widow living in Australia would be writing to a much younger man Emile fighting in WW I in France? While walking one morning Rosalyn meets a very grumpy local man called Jerome Comtois, he could be the one to help put the clues enclosed in the faded letters together, Emma thinks so, she needs to gain his trust and then access to his library? As the story develops, Rosalyn’s walls she has created around herself begin to crumble, you start to see glimpses of the happy young woman she once was, a newly married artist and a talented painter. The Vineyards of Champagne, has a dual timeline, it works well and it’s easy to follow. It’s a story about war, grief, loss, love, making new friends and solving a hundred year old mystery. I’m a chatty Australian woman, I loved clumsy Emma and she made me laugh. I enjoyed reading about the French countryside, the yummy food, the never ending varieties of bread, wineries, how champagne is made, stored, age old traditions and celebrations. I gave the book five stars and I highly recommend reading it.
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