Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Vintage Attraction: A Novel

Vintage Attraction: A Novel

3.5 4
by Charles Blackstone

See All Formats & Editions

A young English teacher falls—glass first—into a love affair and the world of wine when he meets a famous and enchanting sommelier
Lonely and frustrated, Peter Hapworth’s life takes a sudden turn one night when he turns on the television. He’s transfixed by the woman staring back at him, a glass of wine swirling delicately in her


A young English teacher falls—glass first—into a love affair and the world of wine when he meets a famous and enchanting sommelier
Lonely and frustrated, Peter Hapworth’s life takes a sudden turn one night when he turns on the television. He’s transfixed by the woman staring back at him, a glass of wine swirling delicately in her hand—Isabelle Conway, one of the preeminent sommeliers in the world. On a whim, he pitches himself as a guest on her popular T. V. show, and the two embark on a whirlwind courtship. But relationships require a delicate balance of nurturing and belief, much like winemaking. Hapworth and Izzy must navigate the complex mysteries of wine—and the heart. Vintage Attraction is a rich and insightful novel by an exciting young literary talent.

Editorial Reviews

Burt Wolf
“Charles Blackstone’s writing is as much the work of a winemaker as it is of a novelist. It offers the same rewards in the end as some of the greatest vintages.”
Jay McInerney
“Fiction is often a few beats ahead of the accelerated grimace of reality, as Charles Blackstone demonstrates in this engaging novel about a celebrity sommelier and the hyper-articulate mensch who loves her. A quirky and original novel about love, wine, and marriage.”
Belinda Chang
“Vintage Attraction’s magic is that it brilliantly compares discovering wine to something everyone can relate to: falling in love.”
Gary Shteyngart
“If you like pugs, wine, and Greece, Vintage Attraction is for you. I loved every word.”
Publishers Weekly
Blackstone’s second novel follows the wine-infused romance of Peter Hapworth, self-described “Conceptualist, Teacher, Chicagoan, Swashbuckler, Eater, Drinker, Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker,” and sommelier Isabelle Conway, star of her own television show, Vintage Attraction. When Peter guests on her show, he winds up with a date, and the two embark on a whirlwind courtship. Izzy’s world is a glamorous one, in contrast to Peter’s drab academic circles and lackluster dating life. In five weeks, their courtship runs its course through Chicago’s restaurant scene, culminating with their hasty elopement. But while Izzy’s fortunes rise, Peter is fired from his teaching job and pulled back into an old relationship.When Izzy’s friend Pacer Rosencrants begins to pursue her, Peter begins to question his bond with Izzy. To test their love, he follows her on a wine tour of Santorini, Greece. Blackstone has created a likable protagonist in Peter, and a worthy love interest in Izzy, toying with the dynamic of pursuer and pursued. His wine world knowledge is impressive, but the story is riddled with clunky wine world puns among otherwise confident prose. However, the boy meets girl, gets girl, loses girl story he tells is a familiar one that the wine world does little to enliven. Agent: Ryan Harbage, Fischer-Harbage Agency. (Oct.)
Gary Shytengart
“If you like pugs, wine, and Greece, Vintage Attraction is for you. I loved every word.”
CS Magazine
“Tapping into his intimate knowledge of the wine world, Charles Blackstone has created a quirky novel about love, marriage, Greece and, yes, plenty of vino.”
Laura Maniec
Vintage Attraction will take readers on a wild ride through the world of wine.”
Library Journal
Peter Hapworth is a 37-year-old part-time adjunct lecturer trying to pay off two grad degrees when he starts a relationship with wine expert and television persona Isabella Conway; through her, he comes to know wine, love, and adult responsibility. After dating just five months, he's now married, co-owner of a pug, and cosigner on a mortgage for the couple's Chicago loft. When career issues, neighbors from hell, and ex-lovers threaten to cork their marriage, Peter and Isabella take off on a wine trip to Greece in search of inspiration. Blackstone's rendering of a disgruntled hipster-slacker-intellectual in the character of Peter is authentic and humorous; the amusing scenes involving academia are written with brilliance and insight. Peter's ex-lover Talia brings a fun element, and Isabella is well drawn, but Peter's first-person point-of-view intellectualisms take precedence over passion. There is a lot about wine; for readers who aren't interested in enology (this word is used in the book several times), the wine descriptions might feel slow. VERDICT Readers of literary fiction who are interested in wine or the Chicago setting will especially like this second novel (after The Week You Weren't Here) by the managing editor of Bookslut.com.—Sonia Reppe, Stickney-Forest View P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
A romance built on fine wine threatens to go sour in this light novel with a lot of snarky undertones. Peter, the narrator of the second novel by Blackstone (The Week You Weren't Here, 2005), is a bright 30-something man with a go-nowhere adjunct gig teaching composition at a Chicago university who spends his spare time with his pug and imagines punny, unworkable concepts for restaurants. Despite this lassitude, he manages to win the love of Isabelle, a local celebrity TV-show host who demystifies wine for the masses. Their love blossoms fast--they tie the knot within weeks--but so does trouble: Peter is increasingly running afoul of his bosses, their new condo loft has high-volume neighbors, and an old flame appears to have insinuated himself back into Izzy's life. This is all in service of what's meant to be a comic work of commercial fiction, down to the adorable dog and the make-or-break trip to Greece in the novel's closing chapters. But the book too often feels contrived on the structural and sentence level: Drowsy scenes of parties and tastings are engineered to work in pairing tips but do little to propel the story; the conflicts among Peter, Izzy and her domineering manager are overdramatized and unrealistic; and Izzy's character feels flimsy, her up-from-her-bootstraps back story notwithstanding. Those flaws are exacerbated by stretches of clunky prose. ("Breakfast at one thousand six hundred sixty meters was an alluring and jeopardous bounty.") Blackstone's attempts to give Peter a kind of emotional reckoning are half-hearted at best (indeed, his sniffy solipsism is often presented as a kind of badge of honor) and essentially abandoned by the end thanks to a forced and disappointing deus ex machina plot turn. Blackstone is a witty writer with a great subject, but the plot and tone of his story feels unfinished.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Charles Blackstone is the managing editor of Bookslut. His short stories have appeared in Esquire and other publications. He teaches fiction writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop and lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Vintage Attraction: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was awesome. Bought it last year and read it twice. I guess if you're scared of penises or big words, like the last commenter, it's probably not for you. She should probably stick with Downton Abbey. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I've ever written a negative book review.  I always feel sorry for the authors.  However, I read reviews on multiple websites before buying books, and really wish someone had provided an honest accurate review of this book, so I could have avoided wasting my time and money.   There is  very little information about wine, certainly not enough to excuse the book's flaws.   Quite simply, the book seems to be a nerdy adolescent boy's version of a romance novel.  The author  seems to believe his pedantic language and superfluous descriptions are indicative of his  intelligence, but they are just tedious.  His puerile obsession with his own genitalia results in awkward sexual encounters, and the story is devoid of any realistic relationships.   When will publishers realize that average readers do NOT want to read detailed descriptions of crude explicit sex acts in general literature?  Great authors have managed to create romantic, even sensual literature for centuries, without resorting to such salacious details.  Unfortunately, I now encounter lewd descriptions of  sexual behavior, and male characters' endless preoccupation with their own genitalia, throughout current general fiction, mysteries, and even travel books!  As a result, I buy fewer new books, and spend more time researching them before making a purchase.    I hope more readers will inform others about the presence of crude explicit sexual content when writing book reviews.     
Chrissy_W More than 1 year ago
3 stars - Because in the end, I did learn something about wine.  Did I enjoy this book: No, not really, but I mostly blame myself.  I ventured outside my favorite genres because, well, I like to drink wine, so I figured I’d give it a go.  In the same way that deep fried tofu is a gateway drug into full-blown vegetarianism, I figured a book about wine might be just the thing to interest me in the world of… err… literary professionals who write thinly veiled novels about their home lives. That probably isn’t fair.  It’s not like Blackstone is a writer married to a… oh wait, yes he is. My husband says I’m being too rough, and for once, I totally agree.  This wasn’t a book I would have picked for myself, but rather something new I was trying, and I failed.  It’s really not Blackstone’s fault.  He’s got impeccable grammar, a great vocabulary and, per his dust jacket photo, he’s a good looking guy.  It just seems to me that though we have much in common, if we met in person we’d probably spend most of our time arguing the semantics of “films” versus “movies.”  Add to that a plot resolution that left a vinegary taste in my mouth, and there you have it.  I should not be reviewing novels like this; they make me unnecessarily cranky. Would I recommend it: Though there are many people who enjoy spending their leisure time reading novels that could be true, I’m not one of them.  There may be a novel out there that’ll draw me over to the more realistic side of the spectrum, but despite my love of wine, Vintage Attraction isn’t it. Will I read it again: Decidedly not. As reviewed by Melissa at Every Free Chance Book Reviews. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Charles Blackstone's Vintage Attraction, wine becomes a parable for love and the complexities that comprise both. "Wine's not a big mystery. It's a journey." Peter Hapworth's journey is a bildungsroman of celebrity love that upends the trope of the normal "writerly" novel with a quirky romance that never goes quite the way we expect. Blackstone reminds us wine is as fertile and volatile as romance, both requiring delicacy and a sensitivity to nuance ("Only three percent of the countless thousands of worldwide examinees ever became master sommeliers."). His education in wine goes hand in hand with his growing marriage. Vintage wines are often saved for special occasions. In Vintage Attraction, Blackstone reminds us that wine isn't a question to be solved, but a drink to savor, relish, and celebrate.