Late Summer in the Vineyard
by Jo Thomas
Publishing Date: 11th August 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Escape to south-west France with A VINE ROMANCE – the irresistible new romantic novel from Jo Thomas, award-winning author of ebook runaway bestseller THE OYSTER CATCHER and THE OLIVE BRANCH.
For Emmy Bridges, life hasn’t exactly gone to plan. She is working in a dead end job, earning almost nothing and to top it all – she is thirty-two and still lives with her Dad. But all that could still change, couldn’t it?
So when work want to send her to the South of France to learn about the wine she is soon to be selling, it seems like a good idea. And it turns out Emmy is a fast learner.
Far from home and unsure what she’s doing, Emmy soon learns that life – like the local wine – is better when you trust your instincts. She may want to protect the vines from destruction but can Emmy also plant some roots of her own?
“Late Summer in the Vineyard” by Jo Thomas has this incredible “something” that makes it exceptional. It’s lovely, full to brims with the feelings of love, friendship, understanding and family, but it is also full of twists and turns. There isn’t any of the unnecessary drama but the author puts enough troubles in problems to make the story twisting nicely and at nice pace. It easily and effortlessly transported me to France, to the vineyard, and I adored all the descriptions of the grapes, wines, and the whole work it involves. I also loved how much love to animals Jo Thomas smuggled into the story, it is crystal clear she loves animals and has a lot of understanding for them and I loved Cecil and Henri to the bits. Also, she did something what I truly adore in books but what I don’t often get – she was able to capture and brilliantly put into words the smallest details, like gestures or shooing the sheep back into their pen, like Cecil drooling or Henri turning his back, things that we usually don’t pay attention to, that we usually don’t notice but she’s seen them and written about them.
I absolutely adored accompanying Emmy on her way to learn not only how to make wine, but how to open and to follow her instincts. I loved Emmy from the very beginning and I kept everything possible crossed for her. She was an ordinary woman with a very ordinary life, though maybe a little more complicated, as she was still living with her father, putting her own happiness aside and taking care of him after he withdrew from life after Emmy’s mum died in an accident. It was a great joy to see how she comes out of her shell, how she changes and grows stronger and stronger, even though her tendency to accidents doesn’t leave her! She is thrown in at the deep end but she’s not afraid to learn and she learns from her own mistakes and she’s not afraid to ask for help.
I also liked what the author has done with other characters. She has thrown a group of people that normally would never end up together, together, and showed how important respect is, and not judging by appearances. They were all truly brilliant, especially as they casted off their masks and show their real faces, and in the end I warmed even to Candy!
There are also two interesting and very different men in the story, as there is of course the romance aspect. I truly adored it. It was for sure not the main subplot in this story but the author has made it significant and interesting enough, and I truly admired how she’s done it. It is subtle and gentle, though it is there and there is the chemistry even though the characters are finding thousand of reasons not to stay together.
There couldn’t be a better setting to this story, I think, and the place had such a great history as well! This French wine county is so vividly painted and I could easily picture everything in my mind, starting with the smallest grapes on the trees, through the chai and finishing with the castle our characters were staying in – all the places had the right atmosphere and I truly had a feeling I am there with the characters right now. Yes, there is a lot information about the production of wine, but even though it is so significant it is done in a perfect way, not too overwhelming, not too patronizing – Jo Thomas has just woven the facts seamlessly into the story and while I usually skip such passages, here I’ve read them with a growing interest. She doesn’t beat us around the heads with technical facts yet she manages to pass down all the most important and significant information about making wine.
“Late Summer in the Vineyard” is a truly compulsive read that very quickly had me in its grip and I didn’t want to put it down. Even though I am not the biggest wine fan, I thoroughly enjoyed all the descriptions of the production, especially the production that was Emmy’s responsibility. It is a real cracker and a new win from Jo Thomas, and personally I think it is her best book yet. It left me with a smile on my lips and feeling so warm inside, and yes, right now I wouldn’t say no to a glass (or two) of Emmy’s special wine. It was just perfect read, you know? There was not a word out of order, and all the events and situations happened so effortlessly and logically, one thing leads to another or is a result of another and altogether it was a very hooking read. But don’t worry if you think that it makes it too polished, too meh, too wishy – washy – no way! It only makes the story much more realistic, close to life and down – to – earth and it is so incredibly well told. It is about having the courage to do something in life, about believing in yourself and your possibilities, even if life is getting in the way. It’s so… human.The ending was, in my opinion, perfect. It left me feel so happy inside, with a smile on my lips but also on the verge of (happy) tears. Thank you Jo for this lovely, heart – warming story – it was just what I needed!