Broke the Grape’s Joy is a heart warming bitter-sweet tale centred around Jeanne, the owner of a small wine farm in St Emilion in Bordeaux.
Jeanne's husband died in an accident ten years previously and she never was able to have children. Now she is forty-three, in debt to the bank, cannot afford to hire workers and has to do all the farming and winemaking herself. She has never gone a day without feeling the loss of her man and impending loss of the farm.
One April she’s training her vines when she sees someone has set up camp on her land. She goes over to tell him to move to the municipal campsite.
“He stepped forward to introduce himself, but as he approached me he knocked his shin on the coffee pot which tumbled to the grassy floor along with the stove. In the embarrassed, fumbling seconds that followed, his hat came off to reveal the balding top of his otherwise hirsute head, the dog chased its tail in circles yapping louder than before, and the gas flame set fire to the brim of the Panama which he extinguished with slaps and expletives.”
In exchange for staying on her land Andrew, the visitor, helps in the vineyard and before too long moves into the house and Jeanne’s bed. Jeanne finds happiness.
But a beautiful young girl sent by the local college for work experience unsettles Andrew and when the girl later admits Andrew has been sleeping with her, they both leave the farm and Jeanne is sadder than before.
But why does Andrew’s beloved dog return to Jeanne the following day? Why did Andrew have such bad instincts from the start about the strange girl? Was Andrew really seduced when he’d been so happy and was making plans with Jeanne? Did the college send the girl?
Is Andrew still alive? Who was the girl and why was she interested in such an older man? Can Jeanne save the farm?
I wasn't sure at that point whether this book was romance, mystery, murder or supernatural.
As it turns out all four categories are ticked by this charming well written book from an expert on France and St Emilion.
This is a book I wanted to finish and yet was enjoying the journey so much that I forced myself to ration the chapters to make it last longer.
This is Pat Hilyer’s first novel, following his book on travel in the French wine regions. I just hope this is the first of many such books from this very talented writer with a mastery of bitter-sweet tales.
Broke the Grape’s Joy is available immediately as a Kindle eBook. If you don’t have a Kindle you can read it on your ‘phone, iPad or computer using a free Kindle App from Amazon. A traditional paperback is on its way with the ISBN 9781908895714
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle and Apple iPad.
Broke the Grape’s Joy
By Patrick Hilyer
Publisher: Black Bob Publishing)
Amazon Kindle ASIN: B006ANQWVC
Paperback ISBN: 9781908895714
Disclosure: I bought this Kindle book myself from Amazon
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