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Set in the vineyard fields of France during the 2nd world war and present day New York, The Winemaker’s Wife will leave you wanting to book a ticket to Champagne as well as wanting to aggressively shake sense into all the characters.
Harmel brought to life the beauty and elegance of Champagne, even during one of the darkest times in history. History comes alive as you wind through the tunnels of Maison Chauveau and into the streets of Reims. You learn this beverage is made with passion, heroism, persistence and sacrifice. After completing this book, I find myself craving a glass of champagne with the curiosity of the history behind each bottle.
Harmel was able to keep me wanting more with the history of the winemaker’s and her ability to make me feel like I had traveled back in time. It was enough to keep me curious and keep me reading… Unfortunately, if things would have been different, I would not have finished this book due to the fact that the characters were so unlikable.
Lets start with Michel.
Michel: At first, Michel appeared to be an attentive husband and a man who was passionate about his work, who wanted his wife to be a homemaker. He quickly became an asshole, simply put. Zero patience with his wife who was trying to do her best, disrespectful, was unable to have a simple conversation and I’m not even sure how he fell in love with Celine. Given the circumstances, the last thing he should have been doing is having an affair. As careful as he was trying to be working for the resistance, he was very reckless.
Celine: Harmel made it impossible to like Celine. She started off rude, judgmental and arrogant. So when she started to fall in love with Michel and felt the happiest she has ever been, it was hard to be happy for her and to buy that whole typical “love story.” I’m not sure how Harmel expected a character as rude as her to make a comeback by being helplessly in love. She continued to make judgments about Ines, while being pregnant with her husbands baby but tried to “take them back” only due to the situation. The only Celine I liked was at the end of the book.
Liv: It was so painful to read the story of Liv. She was completely clueless, unable to piece obvious parts together and horrible at communicating. One of the most painful parts of the novel were the conversations between Liv and her Grandmother. Live continued to jump down her Grandmothers throat when, time and time again, proved to be unsuccessful. Even her discussions with Julien were painful, she was a poor listener and was, again, always jumping to conclusions. For 40 years old, she came off extremely immature.
Ines: Oh Ines. The main character, the most disliked character. One good thing about Ines, was that she was consistent… consistent in being her annoying self. She starts off being completely oblivious to the horrors happening around her, she is selfish, acts like life has not changed and thinks discussing her relationship woe’s is an appropriate topic when people are trying to survive. She has an affair with the enemy… Again, completely oblivious to the war and it’s severity around her. I’m pretty sure her character was based on a 6 year old. The girl didn’t have a damn clue. I found it difficult to see the hero in her because it seemed her patriotism was fueled by guilt and right herself and not actually because she wanted to help people. Ines (Grandma Edith) may have created a good life for Celines son, but she still was a coward when it came to telling him the truth, then he died and she knew she had to tell Liv………… BUT SHE DOESN’T TELL HER EITHER. Does this woman ever learn?! I disliked Ines right to the end. She was rude to Liv and at the end of the day, she was selfish. I felt no growth in her character. Maybe that was the point?
All in all, I liked the story but disliked all the characters. I would definitely not recommend this one. I have read reviews that her other books are great. I will give another one a try because I do love her writing style.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Challenge: 5 of 30
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