Carson Valley

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Overview

A richly drawn novel of love, loss and redemption by the author of Big Dreams. Since 1893, the Torelli clan has owned 100 vineyard acres in Carson Valley, California, but the traditions tying them to the land are now in flux. Returning to her family home, Anna Torelli is filled with an emotional awakening as she embarks upon an affair of the heart. 352 pp. Author readings. 30,000 print.

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A richly drawn ...

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Carson Valley

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Overview

A richly drawn novel of love, loss and redemption by the author of Big Dreams. Since 1893, the Torelli clan has owned 100 vineyard acres in Carson Valley, California, but the traditions tying them to the land are now in flux. Returning to her family home, Anna Torelli is filled with an emotional awakening as she embarks upon an affair of the heart. 352 pp. Author readings. 30,000 print.

From the Hardcover edition.

A richly drawn novel of love, loss and redemption by the author of "Big Dreams." Since 1893, the Torelli clan has owned 100 vineyard acres in Carson Valley, California, but the traditions tying them to the land are now in flux. Returning to her family home, Anna Torelli is filled with an emotional awakening as she embarks upon an affair of the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The cyclical drama of Northern California's grape harvest is a backdrop for romantic reawakenings in this evocative tale set in Sonoma County's Carson Valley. Crusty 79-year-old Victor Torelli has spent his life farming acreage that has been in his family for over 100 years, but his attachment to the land is weakening as his wife, Claire, battles cancer. Victor has hired a vineyard manager, Arthur Atwater, to bring in his grapes. When Victor's daughter, Anna, returns from Manhattan to help care for her mother, she and Atwater embark on a passionate yet wary love affairDeach taking care not to reopen the wounds of past romantic failures. Barich ("Laughing in the Hills"; "Travelling Light") marvelously captures the elemental life of the vineyard, the experiences of migrant workers and the responsibilities of Atwater. Just as pastry shops and boutiques with names like "Wine Country Woman" are invading the once rough farm country, an onslaught of high-tech approaches to wine-making threatens traditional methods. The romance at the center of the novel is tepid and predictable; Anna and Atwater's soul-searching and handwringing seem downright silly alongside the wonderfully depicted natural world. But that's sort of the point, as Barich sets every human endeavor, all emotion and loving and fear, against the implacable rhythms of the soil. There is wisdom embodied in old man Torelli, who has seen so much change in his life, and Barich renders it delightful.
Linda Gray-Sexton
"Barich delivers a seasoned peformance." -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
First novel from the author of a story collection ("Hard to Be Good", 1987) and of a nonfiction attempt to define the great state of California ("Big Dreams", 1994).

Barich's setting is the grape-growing region of northern California, as good a place as any to muse on the mythology of the state. His protagonist, Arthur Atwater, manages a large vineyard for its aged patriarch, Victor Torelli. Atwater has a checkered past—substance abuse problems and a brief career as a hippie—but he's committed to delivering the crop for Torelli, who has given him "a third chance." Atwater is a confirmed bachelor, a loner, and he throws himself fanatically at his task. Through his and Torelli's eyes, the reader sees the old, Italian California; the coming, gentrified California; and the ordinary, blue-collar California. Into the mix Barich skillfully weaves a subplot concerning Mexican legals and illegals, and his scenes in Tijuana, in particular, show great range. But at the core of the story is a modern, believable, touching romance between Atwater and Torelli's daughter, Anna, who's come home from New York because her mother is dying. Such a love story, marred neither by genre conventions nor ideology, is a considerable feat in the current climate, and, given Barich's attention to detail in the vineyard, along with his graceful, contemplative style, makes this a very good novel, indeed. One might be tempted to compare it to "East of Eden", say, except that Barich, in relating to nature, lacks Steinbeck's quirky pantheism, and his view of the world is far gentler than Steinbeck's. But he resembles his elder in that he writes beautifully and, for his own time, captures California. Barich is also often quite amusing, particularly during scenes satirizing the literary life in New York City, upon Anna's return there.

A quietly but genuinely remarkable debut.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679758570
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/26/1998
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    I found this book very slow. I purchased it because I was going

    I found this book very slow. I purchased it because I was going on vacation in this area and thought I would find it interesting. I still haven't even finished it yet. It just appears to be going no where and I'm halfway through.

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