The Bibliophiliac’s Corner: “The Lost Vintage”
By Amanda Merriman
Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books. It has been this way nearly all her life. Every month she shares what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in the obsession too.
This month, I journey again to France with Ann Mah’s novel “The Lost Vintage”. This captivating read has a dual storyline. One set in the present, while the other is during World War II.
Some might think that the WWII genre is overdone. There are many well-written historical fictions set during this timeframe. Despite this fact, I believe this novel is worth the read. Kate is studying for her Master of Wine examination and struggling with the course of her life in the present day. At the suggestion of a mentor and friend, she reluctantly returns to her ancestral home in Burgundy to help with her studies. Kate stays at her family’s vineyard, and while there, discovers a hidden room in the cellar. Inside she finds a host of secrets including a diary and countless bottles of vintage wine. Intrigued, Kate begins a journey that will unearth family secrets that some might wish to be kept hidden.
Meanwhile, we learn about Hélène through the diary. Hélène and her family face impossible struggles living in occupied France. Stress from years of fear, mistrust, near-starvation, and poverty have taken a toll. This situation forces many to choose between being a Nazi collaborator or part of the resistance. When Hélène’s beloved father fails to return home one day, she becomes at odds with her stepmother. Hélène’s love for her brothers and the vineyard keep her there. Wanting to learn of Hélène’s fate will keep readers burning through the pages for sure.
Learning more about what happened to Nazi collaborators after the war, along with what it was like to live in occupied France gave this novel fresh perspective for me. Some of the storyline was borderline cliché for me, such as the romance between Kate and her first love, Jean-Luc. I truly enjoyed reading this book though and thinking about the moral dilemmas it brings up. What is permissible during times of war? How are men and women treated differently if under scrutiny for their actions during these times? What do past transgressions of family members mean for the present and future generations? I invite you, dear readers, to ponder these things after reading “The Lost Vintage”. But do so with a glass of wine and cheese handy.
Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, feel free to join in the dialogue. Blog your thoughts and feedback at www.castlepinesconnection.com and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar. Have you read a great book recently? Email your find to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.