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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 5 star ratings
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    My favorite kind of book

    The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel is an historical fiction novel and a dual timeline novel (which is my favorite thing). The story follows three women, two during World War II who live and work at a vineyard because both of their husbands are involved in winemaking. And one woman in 2019 who is dealing with a divorce and is taken to France by her grandmother, who has a mysteries reason for wanting to go there. The majority of the book follows the World War II storyline and the two women who are struggling to deal with life under Nazi occupation and the stress that their husbands and themselves are under. Ines is young and does not want to understand the gravity of life under the German occupation and consequently doesn’t always make the best decisions. Celine is part Jewish, separated from her family, has heard the rumors about what is happening to the Jewish people, and fears for her family. The historical part of the story reminds me very much of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, because there is the sense of impending doom and the constant battle between characters as to how to get through the war. Does one resist and risk death? Or remain silent and hope to escape the Nazi’s notice? In the contemporary part of the story Olivia, Liv, is heartbroken from her divorce to a man her grandmother never liked. She is glad to have an excuse to go to France with her wealthy grandmother (and she doesn’t seem to have much of a life outside her husband). Once there, the 97-year-old woman begins acting strangely, which adds a bit of mystery element, since it is logical that the two parts of the book must connect. I don’t think the mystery was too difficult to solve, but it is interesting to see it unfold. Overall, The Winemaker’s Wife reminds me most of The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah. I read that book last summer and loved it, and Kristin Harmel recommends the book herself in the Author’s note. What I like most about Harmel’s writing in this book is that she takes a difficult time in history and writes about it with gravity and respect, but also gives the reader a break from the past every three chapters with the modern story. This kept me from getting too sunk into despair while reading, but also reminded me of how much the past effects the future and who we are. This was a 5 star book for me because it had all the things I love: complex characters, difficult struggles, some history, some hope, a strong sense of place and a touch of romance. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. But this is one of those books that I would love to keep, so I imagine I’ll be buying it some day.
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    A real page-turner

    This story is done in a now and then format. Now is Olivia "Liv" Kent in New York, newly divorced from her husband Eric, when whirlwind 99-year-old grandmother Edith Thierry drops in and announces she is taking Liv to France. Then is the story of France during WWII at the Champagne House Maison Chauveau which is run by Michel and his wife Ines along with Theo and his wife Celine. A lot of very interesting happenings occur over the span from 1940 until June 2019. I loved this book. It is very well written, very interesting and I felt the characters were very well developed. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this fantastic book which was a page turner.
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    The story of WWII in one Champagne house

    This is the story of the Nazis arriving in Champagne at the beginning of WWII and how the lives of the people running Maison Chateau are impacted. The owner of the winery and his young wife, and the head wine maker and his wife, who happens to be half Jewish. We have a look into their lives as they try to survive by appearing compliant and keeping the Germans happy. We see the fear of Celine as she fears for her parents and grandparents that have been sent to a work camp and fears that every arrival at the winery is there to send her off to meet the same fate as her family. The coldness of Celine’s husband Theo, who doesn’t care about anything but making the champagne and does not comfort his wife when she needs it most. The naivety of Ines who does not truly understand what the war means for France and the Jewish people. The strength of Michel, the winery owner married to Ines, who vows to fight for France and falls in love and fathers a child with Celine. Each of these four have a different view and stake in the war and work together, and sometimes against each other, to try and survive and regain control of their winery and their country. But even with the victory of the Allies over the Nazis, life has been irrevocably changed for everyone. Everyone has lost something, has been changed by the events, and some lost everything. The survivors need to find a way forward to forge a new life, yet some feel guilt for mistakes made during those trying times and can never learn to forgive themselves, no matter how much good they have done since. Yet they must share the story with their descendants and so this story does. There have been a plethora of books on WWII in France with the 75th anniversary of V Day this year, one of the few remaining anniversaries where survivors remain and can share their stories themselves, and this is the best of the ones I have read. While this is a work of fiction, it is based on actual events and does not try to paint the Nazis as anything other than what they were. This story is well written and there are no German characters to make you think, not all were bad, some where just forced to fight. Just the facts and how the invasion impacted one region and one house. Never forget the past so that we may not repeat the sins of the past.
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