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2020 Activities and Challenges > Buddy Read for the Lost Vintage

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message 1: by Theresa (last edited Jan 25, 2020 07:27AM) (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments Just setting this up though it is not February yet.

I have been wanting to get to this one since I attended Mah's interview, reading and talk held in a trendy Soho boutique here in NYC. It was so not your typical author event, especially as it was held in what was essentially a clothing boutique that sold a few other things, like books, used as setting props. And French wine and cheese distributors 'catered' the event! Not sure how I stumbled on the event for a book that just screamed my name, and it was tbe first time I paid a small fee to attend one, but it turned out the be a great time and well worth the fee.

Besides being an intimate relaxed atmosphere, the author was very interesting, and I even got a chance to talk to her a little one on one. Will share some of what was discussed later in February.

For those doing Popsugar, author is a journalist.

And this absolutely fits the February tag 'survival'.


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments I am in-had to order my book through inter-library, so the goddess only knows how long it will take to get here. Hopefully it will come from somewhere close


message 3: by Olivermagnus (new)

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 2022 comments I'll join sometime during the month. I have the book but others are pushing it away as they climb over.


message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments I’m going to Mexico in February, where I will bring 6-8 books, almost all owned, and I will leave them there! I see LV as happening then.... By a pool, after water aerobics but before hibiscus daiquiris!


message 5: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Amy wrote: "I’m going to Mexico in February, where I will bring 6-8 books, almost all owned, and I will leave them there! I see LV as happening then.... By a pool, after water aerobics but before hibiscus daiq..."

so jealous! I just may make those hibiscus daiquiri's and pretend I am there😎


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments You got it! We can drink and read and text together, all in real time. (Insert Bitmoji of me in a wine glass, followed by me swimming, and me reading a bunch of books....). Maybe I send you those anyway later today....


message 7: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Amy wrote: "You got it! We can drink and read and text together, all in real time. (Insert Bitmoji of me in a wine glass, followed by me swimming, and me reading a bunch of books....). Maybe I send you those a..."

LoL-"you IN a glass of wine"-oh Amy!🤣🤣


message 8: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2221 comments Wow! This looks really good. I've put it on my TBR but don't know if I'll read it this month. I'm off to check on the tags to see what Challenge, etc it will fit.


message 9: by Joanne (last edited Feb 11, 2020 02:20PM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments GMorning Ladies-just want to let you know I am going to start reading this week. I know that you all usually read one/two books at a time-right now I have 7 going and if I don't start reading now I will fall behind in the discussion. This I know to be true, from past buddy reads. I won't start talking about the book until I know someone else has started.


message 10: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I'm way behind on Proust - this current section is not pulling me in as much as the past few sections. I also have another buddy read pending...Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm - from Scratch

Hopefully I can get to this by Monday.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments Was just going to text you today, to ask you where you were with lost vintage and once we were brothers. I am starting a Taylor Jenkins Reid book, As she is my author of the year, and they should tide me over until I get to Mexico. I’m going to return it into the library hell or Highwater, on Friday. Because Anna was kind enough to get me a copy, an apple copy, So it will be both on my phone and laptop to finish if I don’t get it done. But I wanted to be planful in coordination with you. Like should this be my next book that I start on Saturday? Or is it part number two or three by Mid next week? Vintage first, then once? Book in between? I await your timing..,,


message 12: by Joanne (last edited Feb 11, 2020 03:01PM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Amy wrote: "Was just going to text you today, to ask you where you were with lost vintage and once we were brothers. I am starting a Taylor Jenkins Reid book, As she is my author of the year, and they should t..."

Once WWB just came in for me at the Library-I will pick it up tomorrow or Thursday. I started Vintage and have covered 2 chapters thus far. Do you know Lost Vintage fits Polls? Iowa/Politics? Anyhow-start with Vintage -When do you leave for Mexico? Is it the whole family or just you and the hubby?


message 13: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I won't start until Monday, earliest. But I'll probably finish it in a couple of days of starting as I pretty much read one book at a time although there have been exceptions like Proust which I have to take in large doses with other reads in between.

Let's say goal is to perhaps start discussion by the end of next week - which is toward the end of your holiday in Mexico, Amy.


message 14: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Theresa wrote: "I won't start until Monday, earliest. But I'll probably finish it in a couple of days of starting as I pretty much read one book at a time although there have been exceptions like Proust which I ha..."

Sounds good


message 15: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments BTW - it definitely fits this month's survival theme -- WWII historical about saving a family vinyard? Absolutely a survival story!


message 16: by Olivermagnus (new)

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 2022 comments I just finished Part One (Chapters 1-8). For the most part it introduces us to the modern day characters. At the end of every chapter we read a letter from a young girl who lives in France during the war. They start in 1939 and by Chapter 8 we are in 1940. They are definitely more interesting than the modern day story. I'm intrigued enough to continue tomorrow.


message 17: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments Starting it today!


message 18: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Olivermagnus wrote: "I just finished Part One (Chapters 1-8). For the most part it introduces us to the modern day characters. At the end of every chapter we read a letter from a young girl who lives in France during t..."

I am at the same point OliverM, and I agree I am enjoying the the end of the chapters much more. I really have a feeling that before this is over I am not going to be liking Kate. She reminds of the the gal in Clockmakers daughter, who really got on my nerves


message 19: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I have read a lot of dual time period historical fiction, and I almost always find the contemporary period sections far less interesting and engaging at first. That balance pretty much always shifts as I read with contemporary gaining. It is almost like a see-saw.


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments Yes Theresa, the historical timeline always prevails as the better every time, and this one was no exception. I am the first to finish and my review does not contain spoilers. But when you guys are ready, I have a question or two... Plus i want to share with you where I cried, because I kind of find it funny....

Wine and World War Two... A fine blend of historical mystery and romance, amidst a French vineyard backdrop, and WWII. There are secret caves, hidden wine, resistance, collaboration with the Nazi's. All that Jazz. A woman coming home to her birthright and heritage, a french vineyard with a secret cave and lost relatives not yet come to light, also to a long lost love. In the background are the details and secrets and nuances of wine. Yes, there is a lot of focus on wine.

I think what is hard, is that when one reads an immense amount of WWII, the newer books really need to measure up. And it wasn't half bad. It had its own take, and I didn't mind the story. I was just ready for all the seams to wrap up more quickly then they did. There were some twists that came out of the historical story, yes a dual timeline. I was waiting for it all to wrap up, and I did enjoy a surprise or two as it finally unfolded. So much so, that I spared a tear. That brought the rating up a bit. A good tear often does. Although my tears were not in the place you would have expected. They were in a odd place, a detail I will soon share in due time with friends also reading the book. I look forward to hearing what others thought. Glad I read it. Still can't tell apart my wines.


message 21: by Theresa (last edited Feb 16, 2020 05:41PM) (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I still have 100 pages of Proust to read before starting, so holding off reading much of what Amy and others have to say.

I will share one of the tidbits from meeting the author on the book's release. Author is an American journalist who has homes in both France and the US. Through friends and contacts in France, Mah has had access to stories and documents from the Occupation that have slowly been coming to light in France. For a long time the French were not ready for certain stories of the Occupation to be told...only those like the ones told in the documentary The Sorrow and the Pity. It is this recent openness that inspired her.


message 22: by Olivermagnus (new)

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 2022 comments The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah
The Lost Vintage - Ann Mah - 3.5 Stars

Kate, a sommelier who is preparing for her third try at passing the rigorous Master of Wine test, returns to her cousin’s home in France for a few weeks. She helps him with the vines, but also helps his wife clean out the basement of their home. They slowly find out some secrets about their family history. This causes old wounds to be opened and confusion about who resisted, who collaborated, who escaped punishment for their crimes, and who did not. As the story unfolds it becomes clear just how hard it can be to know “what really happened,” especially in a time of war, when both courage and loyalties are severely tested.

The story was written with dual storylines. The primary, present day story featured Kate, her quest to pass her Master of Wine and an old love who owns the vineyard next door. The other, far more interesting one, was set in World War II during the occupation, and featured Kate’s long lost relatives and their stories from that time.

I ended up liking it better as I moved along but I never found it to be the "powerful historical novel" as it was advertised.


message 23: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments I am only half way through-Like OliverM I am not finding it very powerful-still enjoying the historical aspect of it, but Kate is none on my list of favorite people...she bugs me


message 24: by Theresa (last edited Feb 23, 2020 11:21PM) (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I have finally started this today, about a third of the way through. I am enjoying it. Perhaps having been steeped in Proust for several months has influenced my reading. Frankly I am finding a lot making me feel nostalgic for my student days in Paris in 1976, identifying with Heather, Kate, Nico and Jean-Luc as students in Paris. I also had a friend from high school who was studying in Burgundy and where I spent some time.

I am also lusting after charcuterie, pate de campagne, cheese plates, and saucisson sec....yum! Makes me constantly hungry, 🤣


message 25: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments I knew you would love all things French in this boo-I thought of you very often as I read it. I finished-waiting for you, as I do have some questions


message 26: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I'm now about 2/3 through and will likely finish tonight as I have to be home early to receive a delivery. What better thing to do than finish this while waiting???

Too bad I won't have time to stop and pick up some pate de campagne, charcuterie and fromage for my wait...I have the wine and crackers.

Anyway, while I need to finish the book to be sure my instinct is correct, but as of now, I don't see this as a book about WWII in Burgundy but about the influence of the vingnerons' individual choices and actions under Vichy are still having today, and the continuge impact of the shame felt by those who were NOT resistance but just survivalists under Vichy. Because shame has been a dominant emotion for WWII generation French. The book is also attempting to address the larger change in perception happening in France and across Europe - that Vichy France wasn't black and white -- resistance or collaboration -- but something else called survival.

To be continued...


message 27: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments ...exactly...


message 28: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments Excited to see you finish! I love all things French as well....


message 29: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I just finished! Thoroughly enjoyed and giving 4 stars. I have to get to sleep now but should be able to write up my review in the not too distant future and discuss. Have not read any of your reviews or done more than glance at commentary, but suspect my perspective will be a tad different.

All the more fun!😁


message 30: by Joanne (last edited Feb 25, 2020 04:54AM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Theresa wrote: under Vichy are still having today, and the continuge impact of the shame felt by those who were NOT resistance but just survivalists under Vichy. Because shame has been a dominant emotion for WWII generation French.

Well this answers my question. Throughout I was having a real hard time believing, that after all this time, the family would still be so closed up about the war. I have only recently read some books (non-fiction) about Vichey, so that excuses my ignorance on the matter. ;). And now that I think more about it-I suppose the author just did not draw me in enough to make it believable to me. WWII is (or was) a sore point with so many of that generation, my father included. Not many of them would open up about their experiences and choices.


message 31: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments Here's my review (and I'll add some additional commentary at the end):

The vinyards of Burgundy, France. A long established famly vinyard with a prized white burgundy named Goute D'Or (Drops of Gold). And deep family secrets dating from WWII that influence the present, told primarily from the perspective of Kate, the cousine raised in America who will be taking a test to become a Master of Wine (think PhD for a sommelier) but has a problem identifying accurately burgundy wines. Which are of course her family's legacy. Kate, short from Katherine, heads to the famly vinyard for a few weeks of work during the harvest in order to 'study up' on burgundies. What she finds and experiences will affect the rest of her life.

It is also the story of Helene, the daughter of the vinyard during WWII, whose story in part is told directly from sporadic journal entries starting in 1938 and taking us through the Liberation and aftermath in 1944. It's a compelling story, with long-reaching influence on the future generations of the family. Just as France struggles with its national shame over the Occupation, so does Kate's family have a personal shame dating back to the events told by Helene.

This is not an historical fiction novel, but one addressing how the current generations are now examining the actions of the French during WWII. For so long, from the French (and others) perspective, WWII was black and white: you were resistance under the occupation, or you were a colaborator and thus a Nazi. There was no grey area, no concept of survival, of lack of choice, of being a nation defeated in war. If you were in Occupied France, you were one or the other. That's how the French and others saw the French up until recent years.

At one point one of the characters - Helene I think - says that war shows people at their best and worst. Some people exhibit both.

There are some weaknesses to the character and plot development. I'm not sure the romance side plot was all that believable (no matter how much the reminiscenses of the characters to their student days in Paris tickled nostalgia for me) or necessary. There were a couple of minor subplots that were a little too obviously deus ex machina to get characters and plot from point A to B. But the food, wine and countryside descriptions were to die for.

Additional comments

I liked Kate basically although I thought the romance with Jean Luc was thin at best and too obvious a plot device to get her in the end to embrace Burgundy as home. In order to present the story about the French Occupation and the vinyards and WWII, the author needed a character like Kate -- rootless, with a narrow life and awkward interactions with others. She had to be an American not bound so tightly to the order of the family in France and thus the chemical reaction needed to burst open the wound of shame and start the healing.

Yes, Helen's story was compelling and captivating, particularly effective presented in journal entries. But I had enough of it in the book.

As you can see, for me the fascination -- and this was reflected by the author during that talk/signing I attended in 2018 -- was the story of the generations of French today coping finally with the Occupation, what war caused people to do - from the idealists and resistance fighters to those just trying to survive until 'the Americans came' (and we took a long time to arrive), to the hypocrites, criminals and opportunits, to the French Nazis.

And how can you not love the story of the hidden wines and vinyards? For those of you who don't believe that wine was hidden - you need to read The Secret of Santa Vittoria about a town in Italy hiding its wine. It's a classic and I have it on my Trim to re-read.


message 32: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments I absolutely loved the wine cellar-been seeing it in my dreams! I knew you were enjoying the morsels of food and the french conversations.

The romance turned me off-Why do authors think there always has to be a romance? I thought Kate connecting with (???) cannot think of her name now-the cousins wife was more than enough with all the other relationships and family dysfunction.

I really wanted to love this book-just did not happen for me.


message 33: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments Just read everyone's commentary.

Amy - I too shed some tears - very much at the end, when they were at UC -Davis of all places. Heck, I'm puddling up as I type! Something about Helene surviving and her emigration being sponsored by Rose's brother...and her aversion to burgundy wines.

As you saw in my review, I did not see this as an historical novel and not even truly a 2 time period novel. I love that she interspersed the period journal and story into the contemporary novel but I saw that more as just fleshing out the book, not being an alternate plot. But that may just be me.

Also, personally, the whole Louise/Walker side plot was unnecessary IMHO.


message 34: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments Joanne wrote: "I absolutely loved the wine cellar-been seeing it in my dreams! I knew you were enjoying the morsels of food and the french conversations.

The romance turned me off-Why do authors think there alw..."


Her name is Heather -- but since that is unpronounceable by the French, they call her Bruyere -- which is the French word for the shrub heather... and no I did not know that French word before!

Just like the author flopped between Heather and Bruyere for the same character, she flopped between Kate, Katreen and Katherine for the main character. While I think the Heather/Bruyere was sweet and charming and somehow suited the book, the 3 versions of the main characters name was a bit much.

OH and then there was Helene and Lena...the family name.

I do hope everyone picked up on all the french terms of affection scattered throughout...I think just about all variations of 'little cabbage' showed up.


message 35: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments I loved that Bruyere! I love all things French and that enhanced the book for me. Of course the "older" timeline is the one that hooks. But I really loved Jean Luc. I agree Louise and Walker were an unnecessary convention. I liked the relationship between Kate and Heather. Loved the mystery of the cellars and the missing wine.

Towards the inexorable end, you just want a bunch of things to come together. Find the diary, find the wine, save the vineyard, solve the mystery, pass the big winemaker test, and fall into bed with Jean Luc, and return to home - vineyard and France. And all these things happened. I was emotional about it all. But I really choked up and cried when she passed the big test. This surprised me. There were so many stakes raised. Her finally achieving that dream as a result of all of this history and connection - well that just brought me to tears. I actually loved the story. But you have to like wine and WWII - and anything French. So it was a great read for me, straight up my alley.


message 36: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments I have belatedly conceptualized one of the book's aspects that so resonated with me: the author captured the feeling of every day contemporary life in France. Meals, shopping, family dynamics. The way the French stop for lunch at the same time everyday. It was alive and familiar to me. I have spent a lot of time in France over the years, and the day to day of ordinary lives rang true. That is rare for a non-french person to understand and capture.


message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 72 comments Sign me up!


message 38: by Joanne (last edited Aug 04, 2020 03:11PM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7478 comments Sarah wrote: "Sign me up!"

Oh Sarah! We read it in February! But I would gladly talk to you about it while you read-and I am sure Amy and Theresa will too(they actually liked it a bit more than I did ;)


message 39: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6671 comments Joanne wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Sign me up!"

Oh Sarah! We read it in February! But I would gladly talk to you about it while you read-and I am sure Amy and Theresa will too(they actually liked it a bit more than I ..."


Absolutely! Start reading! I really liked it and would love more discussion.


message 40: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments Theresa and I love anything French or Paris. But happy to reminisce this one with you Sarah. And read other things together. There appears to be currently a giant group read for we rode on sticks. Or something like that.


message 41: by Sarah (last edited Aug 05, 2020 01:27PM) (new)

Sarah | 72 comments Thanks all for making me feel better about being late to the party! Somehow I clicked when checking "new" posts. I started We Ride on Sticks last night. See you on the field!!


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