19 August 2009

Book Review: Vintage by Olivia Darling

Vintage follows three women who enter the man's world of wine-making, well champagne making to be exact. Madeleine Arsenault is the daughter of a French champagne-maker, and is left his vineyard when he dies. Madeleine wants to produce a vintage wine of her own, and is determined to prove her critics, who don't believe a woman can create a great wine, wrong and to rise to the top of her game.

Kelly Elson, a chambermaid in a hotel is also left a vineyard in a will, but unlike Madeleine, she doesn't want anything to do with it. Under the guidance of trustee Hilarian and and vineyard keeper Guy, she decides maybe there is something to be done in the wine business after all.

Finally, we have Christina Morgan, an American supermodel whose marriage is in tatters, much like her career. Christina only takes on the vineyard as she has nothing else to do, but quickly realises she enjoys the work of making a new bottle of wine, and is determined to make a success of her vineyard.

The three female lead characters are all incredibly different, yet all have the same aims despite their different backgrounds and initial attitudes to their situations. Written in the third person, the book flicks easily between the characters in a comfortable reading style which transports you into the glamorous lives of the women. By the end, you are left feeling real empathy for all the women, and are completely absorbed in the story, feeling every emotion along with them. My favourite was certainly Madeleine, with her steely determination to succeed against the odds. However, all were likeable (although not at first in my opinion!) and even though they are all so different, worked well inside the story together.

I must admit it took me quite a while to get into this book. The start wasn't overly captivating, and left me a bit cold, so much so that I was able to put it down and not be desperate to pick it up again. However when I got past the first quarter of the book, it took a turn and drew me in - I just didn't want to put it down! You were suddenly thrown deep into the lives of the women - almost as if the author suddenly grabbed hold of what she was writing and took it on a complete u-turn from average to amazing!

The book does contain some quite graphic sex scenes as well, which don't seem out of place in the book. They aren't overly gratuitous and manage to fit in perfectly where they are written, so it doesn't seem like they are there purely for the sake of it. There is some coarse language used, but that seems to be commonplace in novels these days, so nothing too unusual there. Despite these scenes, romance isn't actually a main theme through the book, more a sub-theme, but it fits in well with the book and adds a different angle to the story as well as the wine-making side. Luckily, the author doesn't go into too much detail about wine-making, giving us just enough knowledge that we can understand the very basic processes without boring us!

Overall, once I got past the shaky start, I was thoroughly gripped by the book and really enjoyed what I was reading. The story was easy to follow, despite quite a lot of characters appearing throughout the book, and I think this is a credit to the author Olivia Darling. A very sexy fun read, not to be taken too seriously, but makes for very pleasant reading! I really enjoyed it and I was actually quite sad to turn the final page!

Rating: 4/5

Note: Olivia Darling is a pseudonym of author Chris Manby.

1 comment:

  1. This book is one of my favourites. It does take a while to get into it, but the ending is brilliant, and it's a great read.