The Winemaker's Wife

The Winemaker's Wife

by Kristin Harmel

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Overview

Instant #1 bestseller from The Globe and Mail (Toronto) and The Toronto Star

“Love and betrayal, forgiveness and redemption combine in a heady tale of the ever-present past…fantastic!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

The author of the “engrossing” (People) international bestseller The Room on Rue Amélie returns with a moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of northern France during the darkest days of World War II, perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982112318
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 42
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Kristin Harmel is the international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amélie and The Sweetness of Forgetting, along with several other novels. Her work has been featured in PeopleWoman’s Day, Men’s Health, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among many other media outlets. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

The Winemaker’s Wife


  • MAY 1940

    The road snaked over the lush vineyards of Champagne as Inès Chauveau sped southwest out of Reims, clouds of dust ballooning in the wake of her glossy black Citroën, wind whipping ferociously through her chestnut hair. It was May, and already the vines were awakening, their buds like tiny fists reaching for the sun. In weeks they would flower, and by September, their grapes—pale green Chardonnay, inky Pinot Meunier, blueberry-hued Pinot Noir—would be plump and bursting for the harvest.

    But would Inès still be here? Would any of them? A shiver ran through her as she braked to hug a curve, the engine growling in protest as she turned down the road that led home. Michel would tell her she was driving too quickly, too recklessly. But then, he was cautious about everything.

    In June, it would be a year since they’d married, and she couldn’t remember a day during that time that he hadn’t gently chided her about something. I’m simply looking out for you, Inès, he always said. That’s what a husband is supposed to do. Lately, nearly all his warnings had been about the Germans, who’d been lurking just on the other side of the impenetrable Maginot Line, the fortified border that protected France from the chaos besetting the rest of Europe. Those of us who were here for the Great War know to take them seriously, he said at least once a day, as if he hadn’t been just four years old when the final battle was waged.

    Of course Inès, younger than Michel by six years, hadn’t yet been born when the Germans finally withdrew from the Marne in 1918, after nearly obliterating the central city of Reims. But her father had told enough tales about the war—usually while drunk on brandy and pounding his fist against the table—that she knew to be wary.

    You can never trust the Huns! She could hear her father’s deep, gravelly voice in her ear now, though he’d been dead for years. They might play the role of France’s friend, but only fools would believe such a thing.

    Well, Inès was no fool. And this time, for once, she would bring the news that changed everything. She felt a small surge of triumph, but as she raced into Ville-Dommange, the silent, somber, seven-hundred-year-old Saint-Lié chapel that loomed over the small town seemed to taunt her for her pettiness. This wasn’t about who was wrong and who was right. This was about war. Death. The blood of young men already soaking the ground in the forests to the northeast. All the things her husband had predicted.

    She drove through the gates, braked hard in front of the grand two-story stone château, and leapt out, racing for the door that led down to the vast network of underground cellars. “Michel!” she called as she descended two stone steps at a time, the cool, damp air like a bucket of water to the face. “Michel!”

    Her voice echoed through the tangled maze of passageways, carved out of the earth three quarters of a century earlier by her husband’s eccentric great-grandfather. Thousands of champagne bottles rested on their sides there, a small fortune of bubbles waiting for their next act.

    “Inès?” Michel’s concerned voice wafted from somewhere deep within the cellars, and then she could hear footsteps coming closer until he rounded the corner ahead of her, followed by Theo Laurent, the Maison Chauveau’s chef de cave, the head winemaker. “My dear, what is it?” Michel asked as he rushed to her, putting his hands on her shoulders and studying her face. “Are you quite all right, Inès?”

    “No.” She hadn’t realized until then how breathless she was from the news and the drive and the rapid descent into the chill of the cellars. “No, Michel, I’m not all right at all.”

    “What’s happened?” Michel asked while Theo regarded her silently, his expression as impassive as always.

    “It has begun,” Inès managed to say. “The invasion, Michel. The Germans are coming!”

    A heavy silence hung in the damp air. How long would it be before the quiet of the cellars was punctured by the thud of goose-stepping boots overhead? Before everything they’d built was threatened, perhaps destroyed?

    “Well then,” Michel said at last. “I suppose it is time we finish hiding the champagne.”

  • Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for The Winemaker’s Wife includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
    .
    Introduction

    The year is 1940, and the Germans are quickly approaching the champagne-producing regions of northern France. As Inès, a young bride, rushes to inform her husband, the owner of a champagne house, of the Nazis’ impending approach, she has no idea how much her life will change over the course of the next five years.

    Many years later, Liv is recovering from a failed marriage and doesn’t know how she’ll start anew. But her eccentric elderly grandmother, Edith, has just the ticket—literally. She whisks Liv off to France, but won’t tell Liv what she’s doing there or how Edith is connected to the city of Reims.

    These two stories in The Winemaker’s Wife, set decades apart, intertwine to tell a gripping narrative of love, loss, the tragedy of war, and the hope that comes from the smallest resistance against evil, set against the lush backdrop of northern France’s champagne vineyards.

    Topics and Questions for Discussion

    1. This novel takes place in the champagne-producing region of France. How does the location play into the plot? Is the setting crucial to the story, or could this book have taken place at any vineyard during World War II?

    2. Inès struggles with her place at the Maison Chauveau. She feels disrespected by her husband and left out of everything important. Did you feel sympathy for Inès’s predicament, or were you frustrated by her focus on her own problems? Or a mix of both?

    3. Michel is not very attentive to Inès and doesn’t notice her attempts to be useful. However, he pays very close attention to Céline. Why do you think Michel was so frustrated with Inès?

    4. Inès looks inward for much of the novel, and as a result, she misses a lot of the horror happening around her. How did you feel about her spending time with a Nazi collaborator? How do you think Inès justified it to herself?

    5. Much of The Winemaker’s Wife revolves around characters being complacent in a time of crisis; therefore, it’s easy for one to be willfully blind to what’s really happening. Are there other times in history where this same observation applies?

    6. Liv has her own struggles, including dealing with the end of her marriage. How does her situation compare with Inés’s predicament?

    7. Céline goes through an emotional journey over the course of the novel, worrying about her family and her own safety. Her story, sadly, is dictated by the times she lived in. Did you feel satisfied with the way it turned out, or did you want Céline’s story to go differently?

    8. Michel feels that he must defy the Nazis in any way he can. How did you feel about his resistance, with his knowing that he was putting others at Maison Chauveau in harm’s way?

    9. Inès tries to help the Resistance, but those around her accuse her of only acting, as a way to prove that she’s useful—in essence, for still having selfish motives. How did you separate her motives from her actions? Is there something inherently selfish in every generous act?

    10. Discuss what you learned about champagne making in The Winemaker’s Wife. How much did you know before you read the novel, and what did you learn from it?

    11. Harmel surprises the reader with a twist, revealing new truths about modern-day Edith’s identity. Did you suspect that this was the case? Did it impact your understanding of the character of Inès?

    12. The selfishness Inès displays has dire consequences at the end of the book. Do you think her work in the Resistance redeemed her?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Buy a selection of champagne to sip while you discuss The Winemaker’s Wife. Can you tell a difference between different champagne houses? What about the differences of varying vintages?

    2. Read The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo, a history of Veuve Clicquot (and a woman who’s mentioned in The Winemaker’s Wife), and compare it with the information presented about champagne making in this book. Discuss how important history and culture is to French winemaking.

    3. Read Wine and War by Don and Petie Kladstrup, which is about French winemakers who resisted the Nazis. Discuss the Resistance techniques depicted in both books and whether they were effective.

    4. Research French dishes that were popular in the 1940s. Have each member bring a dish to share, to celebrate the cuisine present in the novel.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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    The Winemaker's Wife 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
    Mermer 4 hours ago
    A great different historical story about the French winemakers during the WWII occupation of France. Good drama ,twists, suspense, angst, romance. About 3couples and how their lives intertwine with an OMG ending. If you like WWII historical stories you will like this book. Voluntarily reviewed.
    kaitlynspet 5 hours ago
    The year is 2019 and Liv's marriage has just ended in divorce. Her French grandmother whisked in and takes Liv back to Paris. Thus begins a convoluted story. With a great cast of characters and Nazi occupation of France a champagne house tries to survive and make a living. Kristin Harmel's The Winemaker's Wife is full of emotions, secrets, poor decisions, consequences, tragedy and drama. I highly recommend it.
    WendyGo 7 hours ago
    I've read a lot of books that take place during the late 1930s and 1940s in Europe during WW2. I will have to put this one up there with my favorites in that genre. There are two stories you follow, Edith, Inez, Michel, Celine and Theo, who live on a vineyard in the Champagne region of France and Olivia (Liv) and her grandmother, Edith. It's not a secret from the beginning that the young Edith from the 1940s is the very same Edith, Liv's grandmother, from present day. The author draws characters you really care about and like and makes you feel part of history. Ms. Harmel is correct in the author's note when she says I will never drink champagne again without thinking of its history. I am looking forward to reading her other books.
    Daphnepf 7 hours ago
    Champagne, France -- 1940s and 2019 1940 - Newlywed Ines Chauveau is desperately trying to fit into her new husband's world at Maison Chauveau, his family's champagne house. She is unprepared for the time Michel spends on his vines and other work related to the growing and bottling of the precious wine. Michel's head winemaker, Theo Laurent and his wife, Celine, live on the property and are involved in the day to day work. Ines feels left out of everything since she knows so little about the business and she resents Michel's constant chiding her about everything she does. And now the Germans have invaded France, and Michel must find a way to keep his business safe. The underground caves where most of the bottles are stored have hidden areas where he hides the most precious vintages. 2019 - Liv Kent's divorce has hit her hard. After a twelve year marriage, she is suddenly alone and on her own. After giving up her managerial job where her husband worked in order to try in vitro fertilization, Liv now has no job, and no prospects. Thankfully, her grandmother Edith helps her financially from her home in Paris. So, it's a great surprise when Grandma Edith turns up on Liv's New York City doorstep and commands her to pack her bags, they're leaving that day for France. At ninety-nine, Edith is still a force to be reckoned with, and since Liv has no other plans, she obeys, and soon they're winging their way across the ocean. 1941 - With the Germans making outrageous demands on the vineyards, and one of the local Nazi officers making threats towards Celine, who has a Jewish grandfather, Maison Chauveau and its residents are struggling to maintain some sense of order. Food is hard to come by, local workers are non-existent, and Michel is now working behind the scenes for the Resistance, much to Ines' frustration. It's bad enough that he neglects her for the wine, but now he's too busy hiding weapons in the maze of underground caves and attending late night meetings. The danger is real, however, and Ines sometimes doesn't grasp that. 2019 - Grandma Edith has been trying to tell Liv something, but just when Liv thinks she's going to discover what it is, the older woman shuts down. A visit to Reims, near the tiny village where Maison Chauveau is located, seems to have put Edith into a funk, and Liv can't draw anything out of her. They visit a local restaurant where Liv sees a photo of the previous owners, and she realizes that the Edouard and Edith in the picture are her grandparents. But Edith refuses to discuss it. What is she hiding? Why is it so painful for her, and how can Liv convince her grandmother to open up to her? THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE has been compared to Kristin Hannah's THE NIGHTINGALE, and it is, to me, equally emotional and beautifully written. The horrors of what the Nazis were doing all over Europe surfaces in the tiny French village as it struggles to maintain some semblance of normalcy. The bravery of the men and women who worked in darkness to get information to the allies or to protect Jewish friends makes for some heartrending and, yes, tearful scenes. There is an amazing conclusion that readers won't expect. Historically accurate, THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE is an outstanding novel. Don't miss it.
    RossBoss 7 hours ago
    This book seems like it has it all — a war, resistance fighters, love, deceit, betrayal, Richter, a Nazi who was sinister right from the get go - all that in the 1940s. Then in the present day, a broken-hearted divorcee and her 99 year old grandmother who whisks her off to France on a mysterious errand. And there were some good twists in the story - e.g. what Eduardo tells Ines when she returns to Reims after the war; that one had me thinking I had misread something along the way. However, the main characters during the war years were difficult to believe in; they seemed shallow and weak, especially Theo. The book did transition well between the 1940s and the present day - not all writers manage the time changes so well.
    SilversReviews 8 hours ago
    France, wine, WWII, present day, and love - all of this wrapped into one amazing, difficult-to-put-down read. We meet Inez, Celine, Michel, Thor, Liv, and Liv's French grandmother, Edith, as the story moves back and forth in time. We find out about the lives of the winemakers during the war and a secret that grandmother has kept for many years as well as a connection that the vineyards, a restaurant, and the characters have to both time periods and to their lives. Grandmother Edith was my favorite character…mysterious and stubborn all rolled into one. Liv was likable as well. Inez, Celine, Michel, and Thor were interesting, and their wine tunnels were fascinating. We learn more of the war, the resistance, the French people involved in the resistance, and how the danger of making one simple mistake could alter the safety of many people. THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE is another marvelous, intriguing read about the resiliency and determination of the French people and the entire European population. Those of us who were not living during this time, do not have any idea of the horrors and hardships endured by the European people. Ms. Harmel weaved a beautiful tale filled with authentic characters and a story line that kept me turning the pages to learn more as well as cry with the characters. Absolutely LOVED this book. Do not miss reading this book. 5/5 This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
    andi22 9 hours ago
    How many [pre] WWII books can one read? If the answer is not enough, this book's for you. Thankfully not bashed over the head with Nazis [though they are, naturally, a part of the story], but... Again I'm in the minority of readers. I can't help but feelinng save for learning a bit about champagne, I'd read this book before. Nothing necessarily new or original and at times, almost pedestrian. A fast enough read with characters fairly well drawn, but not necessarily sympathetic. And a dual timeline [2019] which I like. And, as usual, I like the older story better. Certainly a fast read, but often, I just didn't care what happened--although I did want to see how it panned out, That said, I pretty much guessed ALL the trajectories. Some of the prose was cringeworthy [to me] and I found myself often saying: "oy" or "ugh."And all too much telegraphed. And the end--JUST. NOT. TO. MY. LIKING.
    Anonymous 17 hours ago
    Loved it!
    Anonymous 2 days ago
    I am a big fan of historical fiction, and especially those stories dealing with World War II. This story certainly did not disappoint me as the story revolved around the French resistance in the wine countryside of Reimes. Sometimes the things that people did during this time frame to be able to survive was astounding. At the same time, personal lives in families/businesses were greatly affected by both personal, heartbreaking decisions, and instinctive actions that changed lives dramatically. The storyline is captivating, as modern day Liv tries diligently to figure out the secrets that Grandma Edith is both hiding, and yet trying to tell, as they travel from the US to France and the countryside where the secrets began. The author takes us through this reveal by taking us back in the history of Edith and the life she led during the German occupation of the village where she lived with her husband and friends., and then bringing us back to current time as Liv finds out more and more about her grandmother. As we learn the secret that has left Edith struggling with her conscience throughout her lifetime, we also have a heartbreaking scene where she begs forgiveness. But this story has a few twists in it that are unexpected, and yet bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion. I received an ARC of this from NetGalley, the author and Simon and Schuster in return for an honest review, which this has been. Thanks for the opportunity.. #NetGalley, #Simonandschuster, #TheWinemakersWife
    ColoradoGirl71 3 days ago
    3 champagne stars This is a well-researched historical fiction tale set in the champagne region of France, mostly during WWII. I truly enjoyed learning more about the process of maintaining a vineyard, the process for making champagne, and a bit more about what the inhabitants of this region did as part of the French resistance. The three women in this book – Celine, Ines, and Liv -- mostly didn’t capture my sympathy until the end of the book. They didn’t feel fleshed out and I struggled to understand why they acted in certain ways. I just didn’t connect to them in the way I do with a book that I love. There are elements of intrigue, secrets, and deception all woven into this one. I really liked “The Room on Rue Amelie” by this author, so I will definitely read her next book, I wish I would have liked this one more.
    Kacey14 4 days ago
    Rating: 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars This is a dual timeline story mainly focusing on northern France during WWII. There are some contemporary chapters interwoven which helped propel the storyline. I’m giving the book 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 stars. This book’s genre is Historical Fiction. For me there were not enough historical details about the French Resistance in the Champagne region of France during the war to sink my teeth into. It often felt more like a Romance or Chic-Lit/Women’s Fiction genre book. There was a lot going on with the three main protagonists in the WWII era. There is Michel Chauveau, and his recently wed wife, Ines. Also in the mix are Theo and Celine Laurent. Michel recently inherited Maison Chauveau upon the death of his father. He has worked hard to learn the wine, specifically the champagne, business. Maison Chauveau is unique. Michel’s grandfather dug an elaborate system of caves under the main house. The grapes are made into champagne in the caves. The resulting bottles are stored and tended in the caves to until they are ready for market. Much of the dramatic action of the book takes place in the caves. Theo is Michel’s chef du cave (cellar master). His half-Jewish wife, Celine, was raised in a winemaking family from Burgundy. She is a good resource for many facets of the wine making process. Ines is the odd person out in this mix. She has no wine making experience. She soon feels real and imagined slights from Michel and Celine. Her feeling of exclusion leads her to make some bad decision have catastrophic unintended consequences. However, she is not the only one with unclean hands. Then we have the modern story of Grandma Edith and Liv. While reading the modern chapters I was usually impatient to return to the WWII era to see what new scrapes this foursome was encountering. This was a brutal time of German occupation, French citizens collaborating with the Germans, and French Resistance networks. Those elements were touched upon in the story. Michel was working for the Resistance. I would have liked to read more about that work in the book. The story often dipped into Romance/Chic Lit levels of angst, especially in the modern storyline. I would recommend this book to wine making aficionados who want to learn more about the Champagne region during WWII. I would also recommend it to readers who usually enjoy Women’s Fiction and want to learn more about this region in France during WWII. The Author’s Notes at the end of the book also gave more resources for continued research about this era and region, and the backstory of how the book came about. I appreciated having that information. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Gallery, Pocket Books; and the author, Kristin Harmel for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    Sugarplumsfancy 5 days ago
    Loved it! This transported me to Reims, France and back to WWII. The characters were both real and flawed. I couldn't tear myself away from them. I can't wait for her next book!
    lhill82125 5 days ago
    What a fantastic book! Kristin is such a great writer and has done so much research for her books. She brings her characters to life and really just want to reach in the book and help them out of the horrible mess they are in. Do I recommend this book, oh most definitely. Be sure to have your tissues handy! Thanks for the great story Kristin!
    stpand62 5 days ago
    Full disclosure: the members of my book club each received a free proof of this book through the galley match program ( #GalleyMatch or @gallerybooks ) before it’s release in return for our honest feedback. This well written historical novel is told from the point of view of three different women in alternating chapters. The first two are living in the Champagne making region of France during World War II, Young and impulsive newlywed Inez is struggling to fit in at Maison Chauveau under the Nazi occupation. Born to a different life, champagne production is foreign to her. Having no family, the transition to her new life is made more difficult by the distance from her old friends, the isolation of the countryside, and the over-protectiveness of husband, Michel, who is secretly involved with the Résistance. Also living at the maison is half-Jewish Celine, the wife of Theo, the Chauveau’s chef de cave. She’s a bit older than Inez and grew up making wine so the work there is second nature for her. She worries about her family as she struggles to remain under the radar of the Nazi occupiers. These two very different women struggle to form a friendship as they assist in the production of the champagne. The third woman, newly divorced Liv, lives in the present (Summer 2019). Her elderly French grandmother, Edith, has arrived to whisk Liv off to France so she can move on with her life. But Edith has another motivation, secrets that she wants to reveal before it’s too late. It’s hard for Edith to share what’s been deeply buried for so long and progress is slow. While Liv awaits each tidbit about her grandmother’s past she explores the region on her own, finding some clues along the way. The connection of Edith’s life to each of these women drives the action forward. During the war danger grows when chances are taken and mistakes are made. In the current day, Liv is beginning to resume living her life as she waits for Edith to divulge more. You won’t want to put this novel set in World War II France down!
    hmbb99 5 days ago
    I loved this book! The story weaves itself through two time periods, modern day and World War II and ties it all up in a suprising bow. The story is a love story in many ways but it's mostly a story about survival and resistance in the time of war. Inès is a young naive wife who can't find her place in her husband's winery. She feels useless and insignificant on the winery and feels ignorant about the truths about the war. She wants to feel important and needed so goes looking for love and attention elsewhere, not realizing that affairs during wars have terrible consequences. Inès husband Michel and Celeste, the half-Jewish wife of the chef de cave, find themselves growing closer as the German's start to invade France's countryside. Their developing relationship puts them in great danger with even greater consequences. The results of the actions of these 3 during the war span a lifetime. The tale tells of the love, heartaches, struggles, and regrets of those decisions. This story touches your heart. It makes you cry for those who struggle and smile for those who survive. It will stay with you even after the story ends. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher  for providing this advanced copy.  The opinions are my own.
    MatteaLC 5 days ago
    A new historical novel, written by Kristin Harmel, who previous book is The Room on Rue Amelie, delivers another well researched story of the Nazi occupation during WWII. It takes place in champagne producing France, and tells the story of three young couples, struggling to survive Nazi brutality, food shortages and hunger, while continuing to harvest the grapes and make their famous champagne, which the Nazi brass confiscates in alarming numbers. The author develops strong, interesting characters, that tell their story in two time frames, the war torn years and present day Reims. My thanks to #NetGalley and #GalleryBooks for the ARC of the interesting tutorial into the process of champagne making, while giving the reader another tragic look at the brutality of war. I thoroughly appreciate the journey.
    Rhonda-Runner1 5 days ago
    This story is done in a now and then format. Now is Olivia "Liv" Kent in New York, newly divorced from her husband Eric, when whirlwind 99-year-old grandmother Edith Thierry drops in and announces she is taking Liv to France. Then is the story of France during WWII at the Champagne House Maison Chauveau which is run by Michel and his wife Ines along with Theo and his wife Celine. A lot of very interesting happenings occur over the span from 1940 until June 2019. I loved this book. It is very well written, very interesting and I felt the characters were very well developed. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this fantastic book which was a page turner.
    marongm8 5 days ago
    This book was received as an ARC from Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. Historical Fiction has taken a new trend at our library and our patrons loved The Lost Girls of Paris and I know from reading Winemaker's Wife and the enriched history behind the story, they will love this one too. I love all the Historical facts woven into the plot that Kristin Harmel exemplified throughout the book. This book also reminded me a lot of the Zookeeper's Wife and how she protected all the Jewish children and people from the Nazis and how she was determined to save their lives similar to the risk Inez and Celine made with having love at their fate risking their own lives. This book will definitely be a hit throughout our library. We will consider adding this title to our Historical Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
    Rachel_Denise01 5 days ago
    The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel is truly a gem. This is a novel of historical fiction focussing on a Champagne House in the 1940s near Reims, France during WWII. It involves the House’s owners: Michel and Ines and their chief winery’s chef Theo and his Jewish wife Celine. It also gracefully interweaves the past with the present with the current story line involving Olivia, who recently went through a very upsetting and devastating divorce. The author is remarkable in the way she was able to weave a complicated, passionate, thrilling, and thought-provoking story into two generations that tied up nicely in the end. There were so many stunning moments, and twists, that I was caught by surprise several times. What I love the most is that all of the characters from the WWII story line is that they were all flawed, human, and imperfect, but yet all strived to mend their errors and overcome the obstacles to become better people in the end. 5/5 stars. One of the best reads for me so far this year.
    CozyOnUp 5 days ago
    This is the story of the Nazis arriving in Champagne at the beginning of WWII and how the lives of the people running Maison Chateau are impacted. The owner of the winery and his young wife, and the head wine maker and his wife, who happens to be half Jewish. We have a look into their lives as they try to survive by appearing compliant and keeping the Germans happy. We see the fear of Celine as she fears for her parents and grandparents that have been sent to a work camp and fears that every arrival at the winery is there to send her off to meet the same fate as her family. The coldness of Celine’s husband Theo, who doesn’t care about anything but making the champagne and does not comfort his wife when she needs it most. The naivety of Ines who does not truly understand what the war means for France and the Jewish people. The strength of Michel, the winery owner married to Ines, who vows to fight for France and falls in love and fathers a child with Celine. Each of these four have a different view and stake in the war and work together, and sometimes against each other, to try and survive and regain control of their winery and their country. But even with the victory of the Allies over the Nazis, life has been irrevocably changed for everyone. Everyone has lost something, has been changed by the events, and some lost everything. The survivors need to find a way forward to forge a new life, yet some feel guilt for mistakes made during those trying times and can never learn to forgive themselves, no matter how much good they have done since. Yet they must share the story with their descendants and so this story does. There have been a plethora of books on WWII in France with the 75th anniversary of V Day this year, one of the few remaining anniversaries where survivors remain and can share their stories themselves, and this is the best of the ones I have read. While this is a work of fiction, it is based on actual events and does not try to paint the Nazis as anything other than what they were. This story is well written and there are no German characters to make you think, not all were bad, some where just forced to fight. Just the facts and how the invasion impacted one region and one house. Never forget the past so that we may not repeat the sins of the past.
    nfam 5 days ago
    WWII, the Resistance, Love, and Betrayal Divorce left Liv Kent feeling that she had lost everything until Edith, her French grandmother, arrives and spirits her off to France. Grandmother Edith has a story to tell. It’s difficult for her, but she knows Liv needs to hear it. The story takes place during WWII in the champagne region of France. Ines is a young woman married to Michel, an older man who owns famous champagne cellars. She is struggling to find her place in the life of the chateau when the Nazis cross into France. Now they must hide the champagne and hope the invaders leave them to work the vineyards. Celine, almost Ines’ age is married to the chateau’s chef de cave. She is half Jewish and the risk for her with Nazis in the area is tremendous. The fear of being shipped off to one of the death camps dogs her life. Although terrified, she joins Michel and Ines in the Resistance. The intertwined lives of Ines, Celine, and Michel are the story Grandmother Edith must tell, but it isn’t easy for her. This is a story of love, betrayal, and redemption. The setting in WWII and the adversity of that era is the background for the tragedy. I found the plot interesting, but the characters at times seemed rather thin. In the beginning Ines is young, naive, and rather self-centered. Celine and Michel are more mature, but I had trouble liking them. The discussion of wine making is very interesting. The author has done a considerable amount of research, and it ads realism to the story. If you enjoy romance with a background of WWII this is a good one. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
    paigereadsthepage 5 days ago
    The synopsis provided for this story is a bit misleading. Less than 15% of the story deals with the French Resistance; and moreover, it goes into little to no details about what they did other than hiding the munitions as stated in the synopsis. The members are never named, the groups are unknown, and the effect of their cause is anonymous. The reader never sees the outcome of what came from their help with the resistance and there is no action regarding the resistance movement. The premise for this book was an interesting concept showing a different perspective of WWII German-occupied citizens: the winemakers. It was interesting that they were treated differently since the Nazi soldiers needed booze, and I would have liked more interaction between them. This novel relishes in marital problems, affairs, and wine. The chapters alternate between Liz, Ines, and Celine. The reader is quickly made aware of Liz’s divorce in 2019 which causes her to fly to Reims, France to stay with her 99-year-old spunky Grandma Edith. Meanwhile set in 1943 during German-occupied France, Ines and Celine both express their own marital problems. The first half of the book primarily focuses on Ines and Celine’s relationship problems with their spouses. Ines constantly feels left out and insignificant, and for the reader it frequently feels like she is whining and can become annoying to suffer through the pages of her moaning about no one caring about her Overall, there was little depth to the main characters, so none of them really resonated with me. I didn’t like any of the characters set in the past, and I felt like it was hard to get to know them as a reader. On the other hand, I did like Grandma Edith and it was her relationship with Liv and the connection that was to be made between her and the past that caused me to keep reading. The ending was carefully crafted and enjoyable. This is a good light read for those interested in both romance and wine. (There are many paragraphs throughout beautifully describing how wine is made.) Thank you to Gallery Books, Kristin Harmel, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
    teachlz 5 days ago
    WOW! Kristin Harmel, Author of "The Winemaker's Wife' writes an intense, intriguing, captivating, riveting, page-turning, thought-provoking, heartbreaking and emotional novel. The Genres for this Novel are Historical Fiction and Fiction. There are two different timelines in this story. One takes place around 1940, and one is set in the present. Like pieces in a puzzle, the two eventually fall into place. The first timeline is during the occupation of France by Germany and World War Two.  The story takes place at the champagne vineyards in Northern France. The author describes her dramatic cast of characters as complex, complicated, each with their own set of problems possibly due to the circumstances. When one thinks of good champagne, one associates it usually with happiness, cheer, and when congratulations are in order. I don't think any of us can imagine, the blood, sweat, and tears that occurred in France around 1940 during World War Two in the champagne vineyards and caves. I don't think we think of the German occupation and the French Resistance. I appreciate that the author has done extensive research during this time period.  It is not something that is easy to forget. Michel, the owner of the Maison Chauveau, a champaign house marries Ines. As the Germans get closer, Michel becomes preoccupied with what he feels is the appropriate things to do during the war.  He becomes less involved with his wife. Michel's top winemaker's wife Celine is partly Jewish, and that becomes a concern as the Germans start to round up Jewish families. It is difficult during the worst of times, to really know who loyal people are. This is a story of loyalties, betrayals, dark secrets, redemption, forgiveness, love, and hope. I was deeply moved and touched by this story. Be warned: Keep the Kleenex close. I would highly recommend this intense and page-turning novel. I can easily see this be adapted to the screen.
    Kwpat 5 days ago
    The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel is set in and around Reims, France. The reader can tell that Harmel did a lot of research of this area, how champagne is made, and how the champagne makers participated in the resistance during WWII. This book is full of wonderful flawed characters who each have secrets and also have a good side. The novel is told by going back and forth from present day to WWII years. Twists and turns, secrets and heartbreak, and a satisfying ending make this book a wonderful read. Thank you NetGalley and Gallery,Pocket Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.