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The Vineyard: A Novel
     

The Vineyard: A Novel

4.0 36
by Barbara Delinsky
 

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New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky has written her most complex and emotionally rewarding novel yet: a story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other's.

To her family, Natalie Seebring is a woman who prizes appearances: exquisitely mannered, a supportive wife, and head of a successful

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky has written her most complex and emotionally rewarding novel yet: a story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other's.

To her family, Natalie Seebring is a woman who prizes appearances: exquisitely mannered, a supportive wife, and head of a successful wine-producing enterprise. So when she announces plans to marry a vineyard employee mere months after the death of her husband of fifty-eight years, her son and daughter are stunned. Faced with their disapproval, Natalie decides to write a memoir.

Olivia Jones is a dreamer, living vicariously through the old photographs she restores. She and her daughter, Tess, cling to the fantasy that a big, happy family is out there just waiting for them. When Natalie hires Olivia to help with her memoir, a summer at Natalie's vineyard by the sea seems the perfect opportunity to live out that fantasy. But all is not as it seems.

As the illusion of an idyllic existence comes crashing headlong into reality, the lives of these two women, parallel in so many ways, become a powerful and moving story.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
Best-selling women's fiction writer Delinsky returns with this story of a widow's quick remarriage, her children's scorn, and the secret life lesson she reveals through the writing of her memoirs.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wine makers call its meritage: the commingling of several varietal wines into a product that can be marketed as a brand name, year after year. With this novel, the latest of 60-plus, veteran writer Delinsky has once again done exactly that, producing a fan-pleasing blend. At 35, Olivia Jones is a restorer of old photographs, and the mother, via a brief relationship, of a dyslexic, unhappy and bratty 10-year-old named Tess. Herself the daughter of a single mother who checked out as soon as Olivia turned 18, Olivia fantasizes about being related to Natalie Seebring, a client who is the strong-willed and manipulative matriarch of a dysfunctional family of Rhode Island wine makers. When Natalie offers to hire Olivia to be her memoirist and "personal buffer" for a summer, she jumps at the chance. Soon she is embroiled in the turmoil caused when septuagenarian widow Natalie decides to marry former vineyard manager Carl Burke. Natalie's middle-aged children object loudly, and several family employees resign in protest. Meanwhile, Olivia is attracted to Carl's son (and successor as vineyard manager), Simon, who has become a solitary workaholic since the death of his entire family four years earlier in a sailing accident. The only suspense in the slow-moving plot comes at the end, when a hurricane threatens the wine crop, coinciding with the emotional storms produced by Natalie's easily anticipated revelations about her early life; the style is undistinguished, replete with clich s and italics. Readers who prefer full-bodied novels are likely to find this story bland, thin and cloying. Those fond of literary Beaujolais nouveau, however, to be gulped down on a summer's day without critique, will enjoy this practiced blend of pop psychology, wine-making lore, learning-disability theory and sensuality. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
A dreamy single mother and photograph restorer, Olivia Jones is in need of help. She finds it in the Seebring family, owners of a Rhode Island vineyard. Through them, she finds a job (writing Mrs. Seebring's memoirs), a home (in the big house on their estate), and support for her dyslexic ten-year-old daughter. Olivia also finds a lover in the gruff yet oh-so-masculine vineyard manager, Simon. Readers will learn about vineyard management and hurricanes when the estate is threatened by severe weather. While the characters hole up in the big house for safety as the hurricane rages outside, a family secret finally spills out. Delinsky, popular author of modern romantic fiction (Lake News; Coast Road) has written another enjoyable novel. Suitable for collections where her other books are popular. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/00.]--Carol J. Bissett, New Braunfels P.L., TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743211116
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/30/2000
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
65,599
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

On what had begun as just another June day in Manhattan, Susanne Seebring Malloy returned to her Upper East Side brownstone after lunch with friends to find a saffron yellow envelope in the mail. She knew it was from her mother, even without the vineyard logo in the upper left corner or her mother's elegant script in the address. Between the Asquonset, Rhode Island, postmark and the scent of Natalie's trademark freesia, there was no doubt at all.

Susanne stepped out of her Ferragamos and curled her toes in dismay. A letter from her mother was the last thing she needed. She would look at it later. She was feeling hollow enough as it was.

And whose fault was that? she asked herself, irrationally annoyed. It was Natalie's fault. Natalie had lived her life by the book, doing everything just so. She had been the most dutiful wife Susanne had ever seen -- and she had been Susanne's role model. So Susanne had become a dutiful wife herself. By the time the women's movement had taken hold, she was so busy catering to Mark and the kids that she didn't have time for a career. Now the children were grown and resented her intrusion, and Mark had staff to do the small things she used to do. She still traveled with him sometimes, but though he claimed to love having her along, he didn't truly need her there. She was window dressing. Nothing more.

She had time for a career now. She had the energy. But she was fifty-six, for goodness sake. Fifty-six was a little old to be starting a career.

So where did that leave her? she wondered, discouraged now as she took the new catalogues from the mail and settled into a chair by the window overlooking the courtyard. It left her with Neiman Marcus, Blooming-dale's, Hammacher Schlemmer, and a sense that somehow, somewhere, she had missed the boat.

She should ask her mother about that, she thought dryly -- as if Natalie would sympathize with boredom or understand restlessness. And even if she did, Natalie didn't discuss problems. She discussed clothing. She discussed wallpaper. She discussed bread-and-butter letters on engraved stationery. She was an expert on manners.

So was Susanne. But she was fed up with those things. They were dull. They were petty. They were as irrelevant as the bouillabaisse she had cooked yesterday before remembering that Mark had a dinner meeting, or the cache of hors d'oeuvres and pastries she had prepared in the past six months and frozen for the guests who never came anymore -- and speaking of food, if Natalie was sending her the menu for the vineyard's Fall Harvest Feast, Susanne would scream.

Ripe for a fight, she pushed herself out of the chair and retrieved the yellow envelope from the hall table. Mail from her mother was common. Natalie was forever sending copies of reviews of one Asquonset wine or another, and if not a review, then a personal letter of praise from a vintner in California or France -- though Susanne wasn't interested in any of it. The vineyard was her parents' pride and joy, not hers. She had spent decades trying to convince them of that. Lobbying efforts to get her involved, like most else in her life, had grown old.

But this envelope was different. It was of the same heavy stock that Natalie favored, but its color -- deep yellow with dark blue ink -- was a far cry from the classic ivory with burgundy ink of usual Asquonset mailings. And it wasn't addressed to Susanne alone. It was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Mark Malloy in a calligrapher's script that, too, was a deviation from Asquonset style.

Uneasy, Susanne held the envelope for a moment, thinking that something had been going on with Natalie the last few times they talked. Her words had been optimistic ones, focusing on how Asquonset was recovering from Alexander's death, but she had seemed...troubled. More than once, Susanne sensed there was something Natalie wasn't saying, and since Susanne didn't want to be involved in vineyard business, she didn't prod. She simply decided that being troubled was part of the mourning process. Suddenly, now, she wondered if there was a connection between this envelope and that tension.

Opening the flap, she pulled a matching yellow card from inside.

PLEASE JOIN US
FOR A CELEBRATION OF OUR WEDDING
LABOR DAY SUNDAY AT 4 P.M.
THE GREAT HOUSE
ASQUONSET VINEYARD AND WINERY

NATALIE SEEBRING AND CARL BURKE

Susanne frowned. She read the words again.

Wedding?

Stunned, she read the invitation a third time, but the words didn't change. Natalie remarrying? It didn't make sense. Natalie marrying Carl? That made even less sense. Carl Burke had been the vineyard manager for thirty-five years. He was an employee, an earthy man of meager means, nowhere near on a par with Alexander Seebring -- Susanne's father -- Natalie's husband of fifty-eight years, dead barely six months.

Oh yes. Susanne knew that Carl had been a big help to Natalie in the last few months. Natalie mentioned him often -- more often of late. But talking about the man was one thing; marrying him was something else entirely.

Was this a joke? Not likely. Even if Natalie were a comic, which she wasn't, she wouldn't do anything as tasteless as this.

Susanne turned the card over, looking for a word of explanation from her mother, but there was none.

Reading the words a fourth time, having no choice but to take them as real, she was deeply hurt. Mothers didn't do things like this, she told herself. They didn't break momentous news to their daughters in a formal invitation -- not unless they were estranged, and Natalie and Susanne weren't. They talked on the phone once a week. They saw each other every month or so. Granted, they didn't confide in each other. That wasn't the nature of their relationship. But even in spite of that, it didn't make sense to Susanne that Natalie wouldn't have forewarned her about Carl -- unless Natalie had forewarned her, in her own evasive way, through those frequent mentions of Carl.

Perhaps Susanne had missed that, but she certainly hadn't missed mention of a wedding. There hadn't been one. For all outward purposes, Natalie was still in mourning.

Susanne read the invitation a final time. Still stunned, still disbelieving, she picked up the phone.

In the foyer of a small brick Colonial in Washington, D.C.'s, Woodley Park, a yellow envelope identical to the one his sister had received lay in the heap on the floor under the mail slot when Greg Seebring arrived home that same afternoon. He didn't see it at first. All he saw was the heap itself, which was far too big to represent a single day's mail. He had been gone for three. He guessed he was looking at mail from all three, but where was his wife?

"Jill?" he called. Loosening his tie, he went looking. She wasn't in the living room, kitchen, or den. He went up the stairs, but the two bedrooms there were empty, too. Confused, he stood at the top of the banister and tried to recall whether she had anything planned. If so, she hadn't told him. Not that they'd talked during his trip. He'd been on the go the whole time, leaving the hotel early and returning late, too talked out to pick up the phone. He had felt really good about catching an early plane home. He had thought she would be pleased.

Pleased, indeed. She wasn't even here.

He should have called.

But hell, she hadn't called him, either.

Feeling suddenly exhausted, he went down the stairs for his bag. As soon as he lifted it, though, he set it back down and, taking only his laptop, scooped up the mail. Again, it seemed like too much.

He wondered if Jill had gone to see her mother. She had been considering that for a while.

Meet the Author

Barbara Delinsky has written more than twenty New York Times bestselling novels, with over thirty million copies in print. Her books are highly emotional, character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry and friendship. She is also the author of a breast cancer handbook. A breast cancer survivor herself, Barbara donates her author proceeds from the book to fund a research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hostipal. Visit her at www.barbaradelinsky.com.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Newton, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
August 9, 1945
Place of Birth:
Boston, Massachusetts
Education:
B.A. in Psychology, Tufts University, 1967; M.A. in Sociology, Boston College, 1969

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Vineyard 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book a lot and found that it moved along really well and I wanted to keep reading to see how things worked out for these great people. The characters were people I admired. The main voice in the book Natalie was a woman of great strength and conviction.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Olivia Jones accompanied by her nine-year old troubled daughter Tess agrees to write the memoirs of Natalie Seeburg, owner of the Asquoniet Vineyard and Winery in Rhode Island. Olivia stuns her adult children, Swanne and Greg when she announces her intention to marry Carl Burke, the long-term manager of the winery although their beloved father has been dead only six months.

Because she struggles to tell about her feelings, Natalie hired Olivia to help her tell the truth to her children in order to gain their blessing for her wedding. Olivia is unaware that she is entering a major family feud. However, she quickly comes to lover her employer, who makes her and her daughter feel like part of an extended family. Carl¿s son Simon makes Olivia want to believe in fairy tales, but she fears that he will desert her like everyone else in her life has done. Olivia, the Seebrings, and the Burkes have many personal obstacles to overcome if they are to learn what true loving means.

Because of the width of the talent, no one can predict what the next Barbara Delinsky book will be especially since the great author never repeats herself. Her novels are always different as writing style and the characters are unique to one tale only. THE VINEYARD is Barbara Delinsky at her best, delivering a first class family drama filled with a heartwarming and gut-wrenching story line. The passion and uncertainty of caring for another person and the vineyard, which seems at times like a person, feels true to life in what is certain to be the writer¿s latest bestseller.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
Have been looking for a 'new' author to read, and found one. Truly couldn't put it down....kept delaying finishing, as didn't want to lose my new 'best friend' book. Characters were so real, and story keeps you involved and interested, without need of 4-letter words or graphic sex.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was good, however this was an abridged version and too much of the story was removed. The worst part was when one of the characters referred to a part of 'her story' that 'I already told you' and she never had on the cd version. I went to the library, borrowed the book, and looked it up. Skip the CD's and read the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The vineyard is well presented by Lauren Mufson, whos voice is perfect for the character of Olivia. Barbara Delinsky is a fantastic writer and I hope everyone enjoys this book (tape) as much as I did. Kit
Guest More than 1 year ago
I normally read historical fiction and read this one just as a change. It was a GREAT book; my first of Barbara Delinsky's books. I am now on my second and may take a much longer break from my normal fiction haunts than planned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Research on grape growing, the wine industry and dislexia was thorough. However, the story line, too heavily weighted with romance, became tiresome. It took me a week, as opposed to, maybe, two to three days to read this book, which happens when I don't find a work challening. All in all, I thought this book was more characteristic of Danielle Steel than Barbara Delinsky.
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*hisses and claws Sarah's face.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The skinny big boobed blonde sat waiting for hunter.
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Dreamer_Gal More than 1 year ago
Although it was slightly predictable, it was still a good read. I would compare it to a really good Hallmark movie and I love Hallmark movies! The characters were all quite believable and it made me wish I owned a vineyard...and if the hunky guy came with it too then kudos x 2 :)
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Carolet67 More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed listening to the book while I travel in my car.
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samanser More than 1 year ago
Good story line and moves quickly enough to not get bored.