Author: Laura Dave
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 2015
Genre: Adult Fiction/Contemporary
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Eight Hundred Grapes is a novel masterly woven by the talented Laura Dave. Family, love and wine blend together well as we explore Georgia’s crumbling life and what happens when she comes home. Georgia stumbles upon a secret her fiance has been keeping from her, just days before her wedding. She bolts back to her parent’s vineyard in central California, only to find her family are keeping secrets from her and each other as well. As she tries to navigate through all of the drama, Georgia realizes hat what she thought she knew and what she thought was supposed to happen isn’t necessarily the best.
Dave had me when I read her book The First Husband last year so I was really excited to review Eight Hundred Grapes. As always, Dave is a splendid writer. She weaves a tale easy to read full of emotion and complicated characters. Heartbreaking situations follow this lovely if not torn family as the parents decide to sell the vineyard and do their last harvest. I don’t know a lot about wine making, but the small snippets inserted through the story added not only to the setting but to the overall tone of the book, creating a wonderful contrast between a family’s deconstruction and the wine’s fermenting, the care and love it takes to handle each.
I feel like it is the perfect beach read for a lot of people.
However, there were some things that irked me about the story. Georgia, while intelligent and the “fixer” of the family, is told time and time again from family members that her life is also in shambles and she needs to straighten out her own life before giving advice to others. First, I think every character in the book who met Georgia told her this so it was like almost in every chapter. Second, Georgia’s wishy-washyness mixed in with bossy is kinda annoying. She’s ordering around her parents on what they should and shouldn’t do (granted she hasn’t lived at home in years). I’ve known people like this and it’s always annoyed me. She’s judging her brothers’ situation and faults, with very little sympathy even though her life at the moment is messed up. And she is trying very hard to fix a bunch of stuff that she doesn’t understand. I’d feel a little bit wamer towards Georgia if she was an active member in her family’s life but it seemed more like she swooped in, decided things about others and then tried to “fix”.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the other characters in the book. Again, Dave does such a wonderful job creating family conflict and deep emotional challenges, it’s easy to get absorbed in the secondary characters.
Also, there is a whole lot of cheating in this book. Like, almost every character. There’s emotional cheating and physical cheating… it actually was making me uncomfortable. I’m not sure why this topic had to be the center for so many character’s drama, but it took me out of the story. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but wow. It was highly concentrated in this book and made a couple of the situations unbelievable. Not to mention Georgia and Ben’s drama.
Overall, Eight Hundred Grapes is a fast read, a good story and engaging characters. I think many will enjoy this book this summer on the beach, or perhaps sipping a lovely glass of whine, wishing they were in the Napa area.
Rating 6 Good