Book Review: The Winemaker by Noah Gordon
June 14, 2012 12 Comments
In the 1980s, I read The Physician and Shaman by this author. Especially the first book I re-read several times and absolutely loved it. Seeing this new book at Netgalley I was very keen to read it.
I finished it yesterday and it’s as good as I had hoped. The only issue with it: it ends.
The Winemaker: What it is about
Description from the publishers: “Josep Alvarez is a young man in the tiny grape-growing village of Santa Eulália, in northern Spain, where his father grows black grapes that are turned into cheap vinegar. Joseph loves the agricultural life, but he is the second son, and his father’s vineyard will be inherited by his brother Donat, the firstborn. Josep needs to keep his hands in the soil. He yearns for a job growing grapes and for an opportunity to marry Teresa Gallego.
In Madrid, an assassination plot, conceived against the political leader of Spain by men of wealth and power, creates a storm of intrigue that sucks into its vortex a group of innocent young farm workers in Santa Eulália. How Josep’s life is changed drastically by these events, and how, ironically, they gradually turn him into an inspired vintner with an evolving vision of life, is the fascinating story of The Winemaker.”
The Winemaker: What I thought
I loved this book! It was such a pleasure to read. Josep is a hardworking, honest man who you only want the best for. Of course, he has his flaws, his moments of bad judgment, but generally, he is a wonderful salt-of-the-earth kind of man. While the story has some more exciting moments, most of the tension resides in the general flow of the story: as a reader, I wanted things to go well for Josep. When they didn’t, I worried. When they did, I was happy.
The description mentions a political angle to the story which I was a little worried about, as I don’t like political intrigues. Luckily, this was only a very small part of the book and served merely to give Josep a history that may come to find him later on in the story.
The story has this friendly, amiable feel similar to that in The Physician (which is one of those books that is eternally in my re-read loop). It reminded me to quite a large extend, in terms of general feel, of The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. That book starts off in Italy rather than Spain and takes place a little later (1910s rather than 1870s). Also, in Trigiani’s book, the story moves to the big city, New York, and later small town America, while The Winemaker takes place mainly in Northern Spain, in a small village.
Even so, these are books about genuine, hardworking people, that struggle through adversity but that deserve a better life than they have. That makes them very satisfactory stories.
The Winemaker follows Josep through a few years of his life, trying to make a living as a vineyard owner. Starting off on his own on his family’s vineyard with a debt to his brother, he gains more and more friends and business connections to help him fulfill his dream of successfully running the vineyard. No need to have a special interest in wines or vineyard to appreciate this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I got this book: from Open Road Media via Netgalley
Number of pages: 296 (ebook)
First published: 2012 (June 5th: ebook, September 2012: printed edition)
Genre: historical fiction