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The Garden of the World

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  19 ratings  ·  5 reviews
California’s Santa Clara Valley was once home to a vigorous wine industry. The Garden of the World is the tale of a pioneer winemaking family headed by Paul Tourneau, a fiercely ambitious vintner determined to make the finest wines in California. His plans are disrupted by a phylloxera epidemic at the beginning of the twentieth century, the trials of national Prohibition, ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by University of Nevada Press
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84th out of 209 books — 231 voters
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Alyson Hagy
I liked this novel very much. It's wonderfully written with strong characterizations and a deeply lyrical sense of setting--the Santa Clara Valley of California during Prohibition. I don't know anything about that part of California, or about growing grapes for wine, but Coates brings it all vividly to life. I loved the descriptions of the vineyard. I was completely drawn in by the characters, their passions, their mistakes. Coates is particularly good with his main character, Gill, and Gill's c ...more
It is the landscape and the harvest that draws the reader into this wonderfully crafted novel of northern California wine country during prohibition. Having exhausted the Steinbeck canon early on, I have craved tales from the rich growing region of California during a quieter era that both underlies the tranquility but also charges it with tenuous calamity. Coates provides a lovely step back to a time of innocence and innocence lost. He gives honor to the hard life of migrant workers and the pas ...more
Lawrence Coates captures the post-WWI prohibition era of California wine-growing in all its complexity with "The Garden of the World." A glimpse into the lives of the vineyard landowners and small towns of the day, as well as the migrant workers' nomadic striving, bound up in a suspenseful tale of betrayal and loss. Poignant, intoxicating descriptions, especially of the wine-making process. I savored every moment.
Beautifully written, this historical fiction takes place in the Santa Clara area of California during the prohibition. There are detailed descriptions of vineyard maintenance and winemaking as it was done then. Imagine a silicone valley of vineyards and orchards rather than apartments and freeways!
Driving around Silicon Valley, you can still see remnants of the fruit orchards that blanketed the area when it was still the Santa Clara Valley. Before the trees, however, were the vineyards and a thriving wine industry that was mostly lost to the depredations of phylloxera and Prohibition. This is such an interesting setting that I really wanted to like the book. However, the characters were unpleasant and the plot something that Freud might have come up with in the Garden of Eden.
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Lawrence Coates has worked as a Third Mate in the Merchant Marine, as a freelance journalist in Mexico, and as a high school teacher in Paris. Born in Berkeley, California, he served four years in the Coast Guard and another four in the Merchant Marine, spending time in the North Atlantic, the Hawaiian Island chain, and in the Arabian Sea during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. He holds a bachelor's de ...more
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