Thursday, August 22, 2019

Blog Tour & Review: The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah


Title: The Lost Vintage
Author: Ann Mah
Published: August 2019, William Morrow Paperbacks (Reprint - Paperback Release)
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours


Summary: 
“If you enjoyed Sarah’s Key and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, then this wonderful book by Ann Mah is for you.”   -- Tatiana de Rosnay

Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.

To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last chance. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife, Heather, who now oversee day-to-day management of the grapes. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a talented young winemaker and her first love.

At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousin clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of World War II and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.

As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection?



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Ann Mah and I found myself completely captivated by her writing. This historical fiction novel is told in a dual-narrative format and I was drawn to both timelines, which is not always the case. 

Kate returns to her family's home in Burgundy to study for the upcoming Master of Wine exam - an exam she has already failed twice. She needs to spend time learning the Burgundy wines and what better place to do so than in Burgundy? While there, she is helping her cousins clean out the cellar when she discovers a hidden room that is filled with thousands of bottles of wine that were hidden before the Nazi occupation. There are also some pamphlets that seem questionable. Needing to know why this is all there, she begins digging into the past and discovers a journal.

I loved how this story was told in alternating points of view from the present day to the diary entries of the past. This just made the flow between the two stories seem more seamless and allowed the author to really portray the horrors and heartbreak of that devastating time of the war so effectively...I could feel the emotions come out in those words Helene was pouring into her diary. I also felt for Kate who struggled with wanting to know more about this long-lost aunt of hers, but knowing that it went against what her family wanted. 

This book is the perfect blend of historical fiction, the hint of a mystery and the added blossom of a romance. It was written just so that you were enticed to keep wanting more. The historical aspect of the French Resistance during the war was quite compelling and the mystery involving just who Helene was kept me quite intrigued. And then there is the romance between Kate and Jean-Luc - they were lovers once and despite their rocky past, he agrees to step up and help her when she needs it the most. As a reader of romance back in the day, it's easy where that will end up, but it's fun to watch the journey nevertheless!

As a wine lover myself, I found the information about the wine and the wine-making to be quite fascinating. I have yet to visit Napa Valley or France but after reading this book, those places are definitely high on my list of destinations to go.  I cannot recommend this book enough and I certainly will be checking out Ann Mah's other books - I really enjoyed her writing!



About the author:  Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, and a novel, Kitchen Chinese. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Washingtonian
magazine, and other media outlets.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook    |   Instagram  |   Pinterest
 
Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #thelostvintage).


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2 comments

  1. Her writing style sounds dreamy... like it would be a great bedtime read for me.Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds so intriguing. The history, the personal story, the family saga all put together sounds delightful.

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