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The Winemaker's Daughter

3.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  303 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times national correspondent Timothy Egan turns to fiction with The Winemaker's Daughter, a lyrical and gripping novel about the harsh realities and ecological challenges of turning water into wine.

When Brunella Cartolano visits her father on the family vineyard in the basin of the Cascade Mountains, she's shocked by the devastation caused b
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 11, 2011 Diane rated it it was ok
Shelves: pacific-nw, fiction
First the good things:
The novel is set in the Wenatchee Valley and Egan does a nice job of evoking a sense of our place. He has obviously been here and spent some time here. So strange to read two books (unintentionally) nearly back to back that are set in Wenatchee - one totally faked and the other nicely done.

And, I enjoyed Egan's inclusion of Indian humor - or at least what I see as typical Indian humor. Two of my favorite quotes:
p. 119
The [Indian] woman asks Brunella to join them, pointing
Kari Bishay
Feb 04, 2008 Kari Bishay rated it liked it
Timothy Eagen is a local author of non-fiction; this was his first fiction novel. The story is set in Eastern WA. wine country (coulee country) and in Seattle, which makes it easy to visualize the settings. It is a compelling story, with lots of drama, some intrigue, well-developed characters and a mostly plausible plot. That's where I had some problems - some of the events unfolding were just a bit over-the-top and that interrupted the flow of the story for me. But, I would still recommed readi ...more
Nov 15, 2015 Nancyliz rated it it was ok
I love this author's nonfiction. I read his essays in the New York Times. Yes, I'm fancy. A friend gave me this novel, and I made myself finish it because I'm an idiot. First problem: I figured out everything way ahead of time, and this from a woman who still can't guess what's going to happen in Perry Mason reruns. Second problem: knock off the nipple hardening. It just bugs me when men attempt to describe women getting all hot and ready. He's got his protagonist hopping all over two men, who a ...more
This story is wrapped up in the smell of the Yakima Valley where I grew up and the "Coast" as we called it. It is a wonderful story with sun and wine and longing and family. Worth reading.
Mar 02, 2015 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Complex story about the effect of a long drought on eastern Washington. Pits the apple farmers, wine growers, Native Americans, salmon, fishermen, and Seattle developers against each other for the remaining Columbia River water behind the Grand Coulee Dam. The main character is a woman whose Italian immigrant father has a vineyard in the land watered by that dam and now faces losing his vines to water cutbacks as most of his neighbors gave up their orchards. The woman is an architect who is work ...more
Jul 01, 2013 Melissa rated it it was ok
This was a long tough read, I kept hoping it would get better but never did. Egan is a great descriptive writer but sorely lacks in character development. The plot was somewhat predictable but left you hanging. Good rough draft Egan, now start the rewrite.
Sarah Bliss
Apr 21, 2015 Sarah Bliss rated it it was ok
Overall I found this book disappointing. The concept is really interesting, and some of the plot lines were great, but others (like the whole Salmon Bay drama) weren't as well crafted and didn't ring true. Some of these segments felt more like political/social statements than like genuine stories. (The book could have been both, but didn't quite succeed in my opinion.) I had mixed feelings about the characters, too - Angelo for the most part was believable and sympathetic, but Brunella rarely wa ...more
Feb 11, 2010 Ronda rated it it was amazing
This is a true story.... from his grandmother forward. It is a delight and because Tim is such a good writer he weaves a story you will never forget.
Aug 17, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it
Wine, Native Americans, Forest Service, The NW, Architecture, the fishing industry - lots of timely topics important to people living the NW.
Mar 04, 2014 Lynette rated it liked it
Shelves: emptyshelf
Meh. I really enjoyed being exposed to topics I know nothing about - winemaking, salmon fishing, the Pacific Northwest, Native American relations, firejumpers. I just never felt really comfortable with the characters. I think the main character, Brunella, read more like a man's fantasy of a woman than an actual woman. In fact, the only character that seemed remotely real was the winemaker himself; yet he seemed to do things that would have been odd for a man of his wisdom.

Not terrible, just not
Aug 09, 2015 Susy rated it liked it
Although this book was released ten years ago, its subject matter includes issues still sadly all too present today - specificity drought & the wildfires which are even more deathly during a drought. And then there's the story of a small family winery & family feuds; Native American culture & their rights; Seattle development, and time spent in Italy. A lot goes on but it's a fascinating story about Washington - both Seattle and east of the mountains.
Dec 12, 2015 Renée rated it it was ok
I would give this 1.5 stars if I could. That would be for the historical aspects of the book which were well researched. But the book reads journalistic in style, characters are not genuine; main characters felt like mouthpieces for the author (who was a ghost character everywhere) and the rest were flat. Women didn't feel like true women, Indians same. Stereotypes abound.The structure was formulaic and cliched for the most part. But, I did finish it.
Jan 11, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it
Timothy Egan's writing is best when he is talking about the Pacific Northwest. He knows the earth, it's cycles, it's history, it's people, better than anyone I've ever read. His writing, pardon the pun here, reflect the terroir of the Pacific Northwest, just like the Nebbiolo grapes in this story reflect Eastern Washington's. His story lags a little when it comes to his characters however. Heinlein himself never depicted women as this horny or men this evil. The characters tend to be too archety ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Maren rated it it was ok
Shelves: pac-nor-lit
I really wanted to like this book and it would appear I'm an ideal audience: I've lived all over the northwest (both east and west of the mountains), I have a Scandinavian heritage that ties me to the Ballard fishing culture, I explored my share of northwest wineries, I work as a reservation attorney for a Native American tribe (which has also been involved in water disputes) and I'm dating a former forest firefighter. Despite all of these connections, I still found this book tepid and cliche. A ...more
Apr 16, 2015 Colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
To me the story was about yearning; for a home, for roots, for a sense of belonging in the world. The details about the geography enriched the story, giving it an incredible sense of place. The battle of water rights was one of the least interesting parts of the story for me, but without that aspect there'd be very little narrative conflict. Same goes for the disagreements with Roberto. I thought the author did a good job tying in Brunella's work along the Seattle waterfront with the fisherman t ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Alanna rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the descriptions of eastern WA, Seattle, wine making and fire fighting, but didn't find the characters to be rounded out and realistic. Unfortunate because creating a sense of place was something the author did very well.
Jeanne Julian
May 20, 2012 Jeanne Julian rated it liked it
Had a sort of love/hate relationship with this book, but in the end, I'm recommending it, more to people interested in the contexts (water rights issues, wine-making, Northwest, Native Americans) than in fiction. Nonetheless, I appreciated the portrait of the main character, a gutsy woman, created by a male author. The depiction of fire-fighting--smoke jumping--is fascinating. I found some of the transitions between episodes to be abrupt, and abrupt as well some of Brunella's changes of heart: h ...more
Marg Corjay
Sep 28, 2015 Marg Corjay rated it it was ok
I read this book because I felt the plot had promise and it sounded interesting. Narrative was choppy, had these blank spaces in the story. Found myself turning back a page to see if I had missed something. "Sex" scenes served no purpose and only distracted from the story. I finished with many unresolved questions.
Mar 05, 2016 Philip rated it liked it
Setting is close to home in Pacific Northwest Washington. Water and wine.
Feb 19, 2014 Pat rated it liked it
Disappointing novel by someone who writes such awesome nonfiction.
Mar 08, 2013 Gail rated it it was ok
Our book club recently read "The Great Burn" by Timothy Egan and we loved it! However, the authors first dip into nonfiction falls terribly flat, the dialog stilted , underdeveloped characters. Otherwise on the bright side, the authors sense of place aptly depicts the Northwest, but then almost too much so. He gets lost in overdone descriptions...of everything except for his characters. His nonfiction books are what hooked me into reading this don't be turned completely off by my two star's It i ...more
Michelle pillsbury
Apr 24, 2008 Michelle pillsbury rated it it was amazing
The novel follows the story of Brunella Cartolano, an Italian winemaker's daughter who embarks on a battle to save her aging father's Pacific Northwest vineyards after a treacherous fire takes the life of her brother, Niccolo. At the same time, Brunella is struggling to preserve a historic Seattle waterfront from being destroyed and redeveloped by a Bill Gates-like millionaire. Brunella is also pursuing a romantic relationship with her brother's friend Teddy Flax.
Aug 18, 2013 Don rated it really liked it
This may be Egan's only fiction effort. It's a good one, although not without a few flaws. It takes place near Wenatchee, WA. An Italian immigrant makes a go of it growing grapes and a fine wine from them. His daughter moved away and works in Seattle. A series of events draws her back to the old family operation and there is a mystery about the scarce water that maintains life in this arid country. Egan should give fiction another try. Highly recommended.
May 12, 2008 Cindy rated it it was ok
Timothy Egan's other books have been great - in the non-fiction realm. This....not so great. Forced characters and VERY forced "romantic" or sexual scenes. I think the only reason I kept reading it was because I liked references to parts of the state that I recognized (eastern Washington) and references to various Native American populations that I was familiar with. The story was fine, I guess....but.... Egan should stick with the non-fiction genre I think.
Sep 05, 2007 Kirsten rated it it was ok
This is one of those books that really annoys me, but I will continue to read (slowly) because I don't like stopping books part-way. But all the characters are extremely unrealistic, especially the female protagonist. She has a major attitude and I just can't stand her. The book also has a lot of wine talk, which is over my head. BUT it does have one redeeming quality: it takes place in Washington state. Also, for what it's worth, my mom really liked this book.
Suanne Laqueur
The Winemaker’s Daughter by Timothy Egan is an absolutely terrific story about the Pacific Northwest, in particular the Columbia River basin in Washington state. It’s also about the immigrant experience, the Native American experience, the making of the Great Coulee Dam, forest fires, and winemaking.

And food. I mean these are Italians, how could it not?

Read more here:
Mark & Erin
Mar 10, 2010 Mark & Erin rated it did not like it
I like wine. I like suspense novels. And I like books about locations I am familiar with (this took place partly in Seattle).

And yet - there's not much that I liked about this book. The plot didn't make a lot of sense to me, I wasn't sympathetic to any of the characters, and the flowery, descriptive language I found to be cloying and contrived.

On the other hand - I stayed up late finishing it. Still not sure why.
Jul 31, 2010 Deanna rated it liked it
This book is sort of like eating dessert for dinner - which I enjoy doing every now and then! What I mean is, it reads very much like a Hollywood movie, and I would be surprised if someone doesn't make it into a movie. That aside, I found the topics of water, the west, history and culture very interesting. And there is a certain cleverness in candy-coating a complex issue like water rights in the West.
Apr 24, 2010 Krissy rated it did not like it
Unfortunately, I only made it to page 60 in this book before I had to quit. I tried to give it a chance, see if it would pick up. But was very boring and choppy. The author had an unusual writing style. Don't get me wrong - I admire anyone who has the talent to write and get a book published, but this book was just not my taste. It was hard to swallow, pardon the pun!!! :)
Nov 11, 2013 Laurel rated it liked it
Especially interesting for me, since I just visited the eastern Washington area near Dry Falls and Grand Coulee Dam area. This story added to my understanding and appreciation of this fascinating area of the Northwest. Although fiction, the tale demonstrated the connections between land use and climate, and provided historical/political background for the conflicts in the story.
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Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who resides in Seattle, Washington. He currently contributes opinion columns to The New York Times as the paper's Pacific Northwest correspondent.

In addition to his work with The New York Times, he has written six books, including The Good Rain, Breaking Blue, and Lasso the Wind.

Most recently he wrote "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that
More about Timothy Egan...

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