Review & Giveaway for “Eight Hundred Grapes” by Laura Dava

Amazon/Barnes &Nobles/IndieBound

Synopsis (Taken from the Publisher’s Website)

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….

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.

In this breakout novel from an author who “positively shines with wisdom and intelligence” (Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I leave You), Laura Dave “writes with humor and insight about relationships in all their complexity, whether she’s describing siblings or fiancés or a couple long-married. Eight Hundred Grapes is a captivating story about the power of family, the limitations of love, and what becomes of a life’s work” (J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine). –

 Giveaway Alert: More details can be found directly below this review about how you can win both a hardcover copy of Laura Dave’s most recent novel,along with a special, Eight Hundred Grapes mug, perfect for drinking your evening wine from.

 Review:

Written with measured, thoughtfully-restrained prose, Eight Hundred Grapes is a vivid,heady combination of relationship drama, and also a rich inside-look at the inner-workings of a small Californian winery. As you guessed, the book is primarily set on a small Californian winery, and the disparate dramatic elements, all the many complex relationship dramas that make up this book are the various types of relationships that comprise the core heart of this book, which has an elaborate structure or plot layout that models the many dimensions to the different elements of a certain blend of wine.  Yes, that might sound like a ridiculously cheesy analogy for a book (ostensibly about a wine vineyard), but it really is a book that dissects the many fierce emotional flare-ups that occur in any kind of relationship, whether it be one between brothers and sisters, or between lovers.

This is a perfect beach read, but don’t mistaken its vibrant cover, or its seemingly light, inoffensive romantic drama synopsis for a book that lacks either vigor or depth. Yes, it does have a few cheesy elements, but those are really just part of the fun, escapist element of the story, even while the novel itself does a fantastic job developing the characters and many relationships. While this type of novel is sometimes referred to as women’s fiction (for marketing purposes), I personally think that kind of label doesn’t always completely define the nature or texture of the story itself (and that is applicable to all genres, just as YA books aren’t only for young-adult readers). Yes, it is a light-natured story that consists of relationship dramas, but I actually found all the characters, both male and female ones, with just enough personality, to really appeal to any reader, of any gender, that might want something a bit more focused on the distillation process of human drama, how our many tangled relationships are things that under stress get squeezed like grapes (keeping the grape-pressing, wine making analogies throughout this review), and that’s where we further learn upon reflection in the aftermath of the tension just what truly matters. And a few interludes within the novel fondly reminded me of those brief moments in a Shakespearean comedy, where we reflect on the worth and value, or the future course of our lives, as is something that is done in any genre of fiction. Why should a light read, that is solidly written, be exempt from that rule of thumb for good fiction?

In many ways, Eight Hundred Grapes with its light, romantic element feels very much like a Shakespearean comedy, and that is where we can trace the genre origins of these types of light human drama stories. We don’t always want non-stop action, extreme malevolence, or psychological intensity in every story we read. I love reading books of this genre, if only to relax and remember the complexity found even in our everyday interactions with others.

Now, there were times that I felt certain scenes were overwrought, a bit underdeveloped, and even a little too predictable at times. To be honest, it’s not a rapturous, astounding work of literature, by any means, but I think it succeeds with being a truly entertaining, fun escapist read, for any readers that might want a Shakespearean comedy (comedy not in the sense of “funny,” but being more light-natured). Sometimes, we all need these types of books, and I think it pretty much succeeds at being what it is. Who doesn’t love a Twelfth Night style story, after reading Macbeth type stories? Laura Daves has just enough humor, great restrained writing, and some dashes of light drama to keep readers, needing a break from a more intense story, entertained enough.

For the most part, I would be open to reading more books from this writer, and I am glad that I remain adventurous enough to read books outside my small, insulated genre nook. I have had the time of my life, in the last year, being able to read so many books I’ve never had the chance of reading before.  Laura Dave’s Eight Hundred Grapes certainly entertains, and it succeeds at being a nice light refreshment of a read, perfect for the summer.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Leave a comment below about your favorite brand or type of wine, to enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of this very entertaining, escapist fiction novel, Eight Hundred Grapes, written by Laura Dave. You’ll also get a special Eight Hundred Grapes themed mug, so you can have a mugful of the best wine you can find, while reading this book! The contest is open only to those in either US or Canada, and the winner will be chosen at random, when the contest officially ends on July 21st, 2015 at 11:59 PM.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Carolsue says:

    My favorite kind of wine is Merlot. Any brand will do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Merlot is a great one (and seems to be a popular choice here)!

      Like

  2. LynneMarie says:

    My favorite type of wine is Merlot and my favorite brand of it is Castlebrooke.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment!! And never heard Castlebrooke’s Merlot before.

      Like

      1. By the way LynneMarie, you are the winner of a copy of “Eight Hundred Grapes,” along with a special mug! Please email me your mailing address at narniafanatic@gmail.com, and I’ll be sure to ship your prize out ASAP.

        Thanks so much for entering, and congratulations!! 😀

        Like

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