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Linda Sheehan

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

From author Linda Sheehan, who's part of a Napa winemaking family, comes a story of grapes, wine, first crushes, and juicy redemption. Dreading the desk job that awaits her after high school, eighteen-year-old Vivian Goodyear takes off for pre-World War II Paris, where she supports herself as an artist's model. Flash forward to modern day Manhattan where, inspired by Vivian's courage, her grand-niece Samantha leaves her pressure cooker career to work the grape harvest in France. There, between picking grapes in the vineyard and crushing them in the cellar, she gets lessons in the art of making wine and in the art of making love. But when her world is turned upside down, a link from Aunt Vivian's past could right it in a tale of being on top, sinking to the bottom, and coming up for glorious air.
This love letter to all things wine and personal growth from Sheehan (Foreplay) sparkles with rich, detailed passion for the subject and finishes with a slightly sweet note of promise. Samantha Goodyear is a 20-something accountant running the rat race in New York City. She and her friends spend their time bonding over a mutual love of wine and slight existential dread over 60+ hour work weeks locked in concrete buildings. Inspired by her great aunt, Vivian, who braved the wilds of Paris just before the Nazi invasion, Samantha takes the chance to escape New York for the vineyards of France to immerse herself in her life’s calling, wine making, with a side trip into love. While her journey takes her from New York to France to California’s Napa Valley, it’s her emotional maturation, combined with the mirrored viewpoint of Vivian as a young woman, that powers the novel.

The dual perspectives of Samantha in the present and Vivian in the 1940s illuminates the parallel paths of their work and the genesis of Samantha’s love of wine. While clearly charting the course of the changes in a woman’s life, the novel also explores the art of winemaking with considerable care and effort, at times at the expense of narrative momentum. Still, the world of wine that’s so exactingly described is Samantha’s crucible; while some of her choices can seem immature, she matures over the novel’s course like a grape on a vine. Even non-oenophiles will find themselves immersed in the vibrant depictions of wine tastings and history, thirsting for what comes next.

As every type of wine is not to every person’s taste, not every line of prose works for all readers. Samantha’s voice seems less certain than Vivian’s, with some dialog verging on awkward. That’s rooted in character, though, and the novel will leave readers craving answers to certain questions and anxiously awaiting the next sip.

Takeaway: A love letter to all things wine, charting the growth of a woman following her passion.

Great for fans of: Ann Mah’s The Lost Vintage, Susan Mallery’s The Vineyard at Painted Moon.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A


“A highly enjoyable tale of love, wine, and passion with juicy deft plotting.Readers will receive an enjoyable education on winemaking as Sam learns and works. Indeed, the emphasis on Sam’s dreams give the book an admirably feminist bent.”