First of all, I hope you’ll all agree with me that this cover is gorgeous and as inviting as a proper Mediterranean wine party spread, yet instead it urges us to devour the story rather than the food for substance. However, it does still urge us to partake of the wine doesn’t it?
From the moment I started the book it was just as if I was beginning to eat my favorite fruit and cheese plate, swirling wine in my glass to catch the aroma, as it was as palatable to my senses. Moran writes to engage all the senses so you feel immersed in the story and caught up in the characters.
It takes A LOT for a book to draw me in to the beginning, yet this one did. It’s a great escape for me to read a good historical romance time and again. Even though this one wasn’t truly historical as most I read, it did slip back in time to tell the story of Moran’s protagonist, Caterina, and her family in Italy, prior to coming to America (as well the events that led to that). I love generational readings, mysteries of families of the past, so to me, this was really less of a love story and more of a mother/daughter/familial secrets type of read. However, romance lovers will appreciate the subtle romance as well.
Caterina is the daughter of a successful single mom Ava, a strong woman of French descent who had married an Italian man and lived in Italy. Ava eventually ends up on the United States and since they made amazing wine in Italy, she takes money inherited from her parents, who had passed away, and builds her own winery, which also becomes successful. After finishing college, Caterina, who grew up immersed in the winery business in California by helping her mother, also returns to continue the wine legacy. When she returns she has a secret though, a daughter out of wedlock with lover who doesn’t know of the baby, and she finds out her mother has more than one secret as well. Caterina simultaneously gains an inheritance from a relative in Italy and she heads overseas to see if a vineyard there is worth a shot. She finds MUCH more than grapes and a house in need of repair. But to tell you would give away the plot. so you’ll have to enjoy the suspense for yourself.
What I also loved about this book is Moran’s work in telling the female story, whether it be 1920s Italy or 1950s California. The novel shows us what life was like for both married/widowed women, as well as unwed mothers and children of broken or single parent homes. I could also sense, and agreed, with Moran’s small insertions of how ludicrous some of the social rules and general laws were in the treatment of women. For instance, that unwed mothers were treated as outcasts and told that it was better to give up their children for adoption or that women married to men could not conduct their own business with banks and lenders and were given unfair treatment (good old boys club). Both of these issues, though it’s better today than then, impacted me and I can relate for several reasons.I really enjoyed how Moran wasn’t afraid to broach these subjects and to write a book true to the time period. It serves to remind women how far we have come (even if we still have a way to go).
However, all my musings into the deeper nuances are things I picked up, but it’s also not a heavy read. It’s intelligently written with delicious details, but as well it’s one that holds your attention in a way that will have you turning pages quickly to get through it in one weekend. The tension of the family’s story, and Caterina’s look into her family’s past, as well as the introspection of her own future, is quite touching and leaves you feeling empowered. Her love story will make you hurt for her and also root for her happiness.
Her character development is once again very strong, as I feel like these characters are real human beings. I’m sad Caterina isn’t in the flesh as I’d really love to meet her. I almost feel as if now she is my friend. There is drama in the story, but it feels REAL, as if it’s people you know from your past. This would make an excellent television mini-series and I’d be glued to the TV. As well, she does a superb job with her plot, leaving just enough trail of clues to keep us guessing or pick up on things for ourselves.
From the sweeping locales of California, Italy, and Paris, Moran’s descriptions are so vivid that it puts your mind vision right in the place setting. As well her knowledge of wine-making and drinking will have you not only smelling the beautiful wines, but practically tasting the layers of flavor. Her extensive experience in make-up and fashion is also evident, as she describes with such passion new colors, scent, and brands of beauty products of the time as well as exquisite fashion, such as Dior suits and French lingerie. A beauty and fashion buff myself, these were little gifts planted that I thoroughly enjoyed.
With one book, Moran gives me luxurious reading at its finest, with enough mystery and suspense to keep me dying to read more pages. This is the perfect book to be immersed in if you read for relaxation. I can’t say enough good things about Moran’s writing ability and I always look forward to her novels. The Winemakers is highly recommended for female readers, especially those who would love to indulge in a night of wine, chocolate, and reading. 5 Stars!
The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets by Jan Moran
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
St. Martin’s Griffin
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she’s never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret — a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for. Many years before, her mother’s hard-won dreams of staking her family’s claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past.
From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.
“Absolutely adored THE WINEMAKERS. Beautifully layered and utterly compelling. Intriguing from start to finish. A story not to be missed.” –Jane Porter, USA Today and NYT Bestselling author of It’s You and The Good Woman
“Wildly romantic and utterly compelling, THE WINEMAKERS is full of family secrets and gorgeous descriptions of the Italian countryside and the vineyards of the Napa Valley. I was completely swept away!” – Anita Hughes, author of Rome In Love
“Told with exquisite elegance and style, THE WINEMAKERS is a dazzling tale rich with family secrets, fine wine, and romance that will leave you breathless.” – Juliette Sobanet, author of Sleeping with Paris
Jan Moran, Biography
JAN MORAN is the author of the novel Scent of Triumph, and Fabulous Fragrances I and II, which earned spots on the Rizzoli Bookstore bestseller list.
A fragrance and beauty expert, she has been featured in numerous publications and on television and radio, including CNN, Instyle, and O Magazine, and has spoken before prestigious organizations, including The American Society of Perfumers.
She earned her MBA from Harvard Business school and attended the University of California at Los Angeles Extension Writers’ Program.
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