Book Review: The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch

The Vintners Daughter by Kristen Harnisch II

Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by HarperCollins Canada

A captivating historical-fiction debut: ambition, betrayal and love take a spirited young woman from the verdant Loire Valley to turn-of-the-century Manhattan to the wide open spaces of California wine country

Loire Valley, 1895. When seventeen-year-old Sara Thibault’s father is killed in a mudslide, her mother sells their vineyard to a rival family, whose eldest son marries Sara’s sister, Lydia. But a violent tragedy compels Sara and her sister to flee to New York, forcing Sara to put aside her dream to follow in her father’s footsteps as a master winemaker.

Meanwhile, Philippe Lemieux has arrived in California with the ambition of owning the largest vineyard in Napa by 1900. When he receives word of his brother’s death in France, he resolves to bring the killer to justice. Sara has traveled to California in hopes of making her own way in the winemaking world. When she encounters Philippe in a Napa vineyard, they are instantly drawn to one another, but Sara knows he is the one man who could return her family’s vineyard to her, or send her straight to the guillotine.

A riveting, romantic tale of betrayal, retribution, love and redemption, Kristen Harnisch’s debut novel immerses readers in the rich vineyard culture of both the Old and New Worlds, the burgeoning cities of turn-of-the-century America and a spirited heroine’s fight to determine her destiny.

My thoughts:

I used to refuse to read Historical Romance for a long time. For many reasons I won’t go into here today but let me tell you, lately, I have been picking up some great ones. Vintner’s Daughter was the perfect choice for me. Though there are a few minor problems I had with the story that needs to be mentioned.

I found the story to be a bit overly predictable at times and I wanted some twist and turns to surprise me. In addition, I felt a couple of scenarios to the plot could have been a bit stronger and fleshed out more.

Though I love a strong female heroine’s in a story. They need to be flawed as well to make them believable. There were at times I felt Sara was too perfect to be true. Though I liked her a great deal and admired her courage and steadfastness.

One of the themes in the story was about the Suffragette movement and although-in my opinion-it played a back seat in the story, I found it an interesting addition and I would have liked it to play a stronger role. I am hoping it will in the sequel. We will see I guess.

Another theme weaved into the story was about the looming prohibition to come and how Sara and Philippe explores way around the survival of the wine industry is quite fascinating and intelligent. I am looking forward to the outcome of that-if it will be explored in the sequel. I hope.

I could feel the attraction between Sara and Philippe coming from the pages as their relationship grew. I liked how this was told and glad the author did not push their relationship too hard and too fast. Harnisch’s gives the right momentum and gives the reader time to enjoy the interaction between them.

I enjoyed the story and I felt there was some really strong character development. I thought the supporting characters were marvelous. Not only that, the story flowed well and I found myself thinking about the characters long after I put the book down. There is also the fact that the main story takes place in Napa Valley and I always find that reading about Vintners and the life they lead are highly interesting.

Harnisch gives the reader a grasp of what the 1800’s was like for women and provides the reader with insight of the grape-cultivation of wine. This is a great debut and I am anxious to read, The California Wife.

I have rated this book three stars and received a copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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