“There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…
Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.
But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…”
Thoughts on the Novel: Georgia Ford may appear to have it all, but when readers first meet her, they know immediately that all is not right. For Georgia is running away from something, and anyone who has reached the point where running away is a viable option has problems. The opening scenes of Georgia fleeing LA set the tone for Laura Dave’s latest novel in which life, like grapes, takes a massive amount of attention, nurturing, and love to bloom.
In Eight Hundred Grapes, Georgia is seeking solace in the bosom of her family at the most special point in a vineyard’s entire year. What she expects to find is a family ready to come together to celebrate another successful crop and future delicious wine. What she gets is one surprise after another. However, as quick as she was to flee LA in her despair, she refuses to flee when things get tough on the homestead. Rather, she sticks with her family and fights for its legacy. Some readers may find this inconsistency in her character to be a fault, but others will understand that the fight or flight reflex as it comes to tough situations is merely a measure of someone’s true feelings.
Wine is a huge portion of the story, which will cause tremendous appeal in a myriad of readers. Ms. Dave’s approach to this backdrop is meticulous research into biodynamic wineries, and it shows. There are a lot of overly involved details describing the efforts of vintners employing biodynamic methods. While it might be fascinating to some readers to find out just how one produces such wines, others will find these scenes unnecessarily bog down the overarching story. In truth, these scenes are important for Georgia’s journey of self-discovery. The correlations between the vagaries of the winery business and of life are too great to ignore. Besides, the biodynamic wine business is quite interesting.
Eight Hundred Grapes reminds readers that life is so very rarely transparent and predictable. More importantly, no one will ever know all of the secrets others keep. Even the most open and communicative family will host a myriad of secrets that, if shared, could threaten relationships and change opinions in a moment’s notice. More importantly, Georgia’s story reminds people that life is too short to have any doubts about one’s partner or career path. That her story occurs in a vineyard only enhances its charm and creates a thoroughly enjoyable summer read that demands spending time with good friends and good wine.