New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky has written her most complex and emotionally rewarding novel yet: a story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other's.
To her family, Natalie Seebring is a woman who prizes appearances: exquisitely mannered, a supportive wife, and head of a successful wine-producing enterprise. So when she announces plans to marry a vineyard employee mere months after the death of her husband of fifty-eight years, her son and daughter are stunned. Faced with their disapproval, Natalie decides to write a memoir.
Olivia Jones is a dreamer, living vicariously through the old photographs she restores. She and her daughter, Tess, cling to the fantasy that a big, happy family is out there just waiting for them. When Natalie hires Olivia to help with her memoir, a summer at Natalie's vineyard by the sea seems the perfect opportunity to live out that fantasy. But all is not as it seems.
As the illusion of an idyllic existence comes crashing headlong into reality, the lives of these two women, parallel in so many ways, become a powerful and moving story.
Wine makers call its meritage: the commingling of several varietal wines into a product that can be marketed as a brand name, year after year. With this novel, the latest of 60-plus, veteran writer Delinsky has once again done exactly that, producing a fan-pleasing blend. At 35, Olivia Jones is a restorer of old photographs, and the mother, via a brief relationship, of a dyslexic, unhappy and bratty 10-year-old named Tess. Herself the daughter of a single mother who checked out as soon as Olivia turned 18, Olivia fantasizes about being related to Natalie Seebring, a client who is the strong-willed and manipulative matriarch of a dysfunctional family of Rhode Island wine makers. When Natalie offers to hire Olivia to be her memoirist and "personal buffer" for a summer, she jumps at the chance. Soon she is embroiled in the turmoil caused when septuagenarian widow Natalie decides to marry former vineyard manager Carl Burke. Natalie's middle-aged children object loudly, and several family employees resign in protest. Meanwhile, Olivia is attracted to Carl's son (and successor as vineyard manager), Simon, who has become a solitary workaholic since the death of his entire family four years earlier in a sailing accident. The only suspense in the slow-moving plot comes at the end, when a hurricane threatens the wine crop, coinciding with the emotional storms produced by Natalie's easily anticipated revelations about her early life; the style is undistinguished, replete with clich s and italics. Readers who prefer full-bodied novels are likely to find this story bland, thin and cloying. Those fond of literary Beaujolais nouveau, however, to be gulped down on a summer's day without critique, will enjoy this practiced blend of pop psychology, wine-making lore, learning-disability theory and sensuality.
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I love this book! I love Barbara's books. She knows how to write books that make you want to continue reading till it's done. I'm 32, mother of a 10 & 11 year old, I don't have much time on my hands, but I have found these books this year when my aunt let me have a couple of hers. Now, I own several & want to read every book she's written! I do have a famous author in my family..Charles Dickens was my (4) greats grandpa's 1st cousin!! Ü