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The Winemaker's Daughter

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  241 ratings  ·  47 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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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
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
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
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.
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.
Wine, Native Americans, Forest Service, The NW, Architecture, the fishing industry - lots of timely topics important to people living the NW.
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
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
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
Jeanne Julian
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
Disappointing novel by someone who writes such awesome nonfiction.
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
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.
Don Jacobson
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.
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.
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.
Mark & Erin
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.
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.
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!!! :)
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.
Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his non-fiction, but I felt he didn't quite have fictional storytelling perfected. I think someday he will tho. Still, I did enjoy this book and the familiar setting of Seattle and smaller berg of Ballard and of eastern Washington. The winery and process of winemaking was informative as well as entertaining too.
Egan is a great writer, but this fiction book seems done about three-quarters through. A divergent ending into Italy seems to be Egan's effort to find material from a trip to Italy.

But it captures the water wars, the wine wars, the challenges about development and the evolving West, in a way that feels spot-on for someone who lives in the Northwest.
Kristi Thorne
Good attempt at a first novel for Egan, but characters are somewhat flat and plot is somewhat anticlimatic. Best aspects are not surprisingly Egan's best skills - description; drawing similarities between people of different backgrounds.
Linda Himmel
I enjoyed this book mainly because it was set in Eastern Washington. Author was pretty true to the feel of the Columbia. Very interesting perspective on water wars, smoke jumping, salmon etc. Felt the ending was not well done, left me feeling like he ran out of ideas and just ended it. Definitely worth the read though.
Not a particulary good writer; more of a preacher about the environment. Set in the Pacific Northwest. He's a 'cause guy'. Throws too much into his pages. Writing style is choppy. In the end you're worn down and don't care about any of it. (Compare to "The Good Rain" which is at least an honest non-ficiton approach.)
Julie Dolan
I read this when I was living in Oregon. The setting is fascinating and I love the wine making talk (having grown up in wine making region of NY). I found other parts of the book - fire jumping, Indian relations, water wars - to be interesting and worth learning about, but I didn't really care for the book.
Andy Perdue
This book had so much promise. Its setting in Washington state (both the Seattle area and Okanogan County) and its premise are both interesting. The storyline is solid, and the politics are interesting. What completely ruined the book were the goofy and bizarrely non sequitur sex scenes throughout.
I think a geologist would love this book. I did not. I am not a geologist. I kept waiting for the character development to happen, for the plot to get going. The descriptions of nature were beautiful but excessive- too much background not enough story for my taste. I just couldn't commit to it.
One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this book is it takes place in the new home state I've adopted. So that held a particular interest for me. That said, the mystery of the story held my interest, although I did find myself a bit bored toward the end. Overall a good read, though.
Location, location, location. Having lived in Eastern Washington, I found this book interesting. Water rights, Indian communities, an Italian winemaker, smoke-jumpers, historic preservation - all interesting. But the plot, not really a mystery, seems disjointed and "put-together".
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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...
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest Breaking Blue

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