Side Real Press's Reviews > Terroir

Terroir by D.P. Watt
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I discovered D. P. Watt's work some years ago via the publications of Ex-Occidente Press (now Mount Abraxas) and immediately liked his work. Admittedly some more that others, as he has experimented with various styles ('weird' fiction, fantasy and modernism) but it has always been interesting and whatever style/genre he is working in, it is certainly stylish prose.

Of late his work has seemed to have dealt with 'place' or environment (witness his work for Sarob Press 'Darkly Haunting' or Swan Rivers 'The Scarlet Soul') partly, one assumes, in the wake of the U.K.'s vote on Brexit. Whilst I voted to remain within Europe I am not a fan of Brexit related stories (can anyone name a great pro or anti Britain joining the E.E.C. story?) so am pleased to report that this story is not in that vein, although it is about assimilation.

'Terroir' is a term primarily used by wine-makers to describe the environment in which their vines are grown (climate, soil etc) and the story revolves around a post graduate (Celilia Harman) going to harvest grapes in France and falling in love with the son of the vineyard and becoming part of that family.

As with any family, there are idiosyncrasies and much of the book concerns Cecilias adjustments to these. We become aware that there is some sort of secret or possibly even family 'folklore' associated with her arrival; what, for example is the significance of wild boar, or the head servants relationship to the mausoleum? There is a lot of dialogue about wine vintages, good and bad years and special blends and the reader is left to wonder whether we are heading towards M. R. James territory or something more akin to 'folk-horror'. It is masterfully done, particularly in the central section when Cecilia is bored with nothing to do except be the 'lady of house' and feels she is being withheld from the business side of the vineyard.

All is revealed in the final pages when external event come into play) and it is only then that one realizes the significance of the clues that had been given to us earlier in the book. Does she believe or not believe what she has learnt? How will she adjust to whatever she decides? The reader must make that choice.

Did you blink? Then you've probably missed getting a copy of this handsome book, nicely printed (black on thick orange paper) in a tiny run of 122. It's tales like this that make me wish Mount Abraxis runs were longer so that more could enjoy the contents because it's worth trying to find a copy.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
November 21, 2019 – Shelved

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