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… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)
I’ve only been to California once, and that was to San Francisco for only two days. I’m not a drinker so I’ve never had a desire to go to the Wine Country. Well, that all has changed since reading Eight Hundred Grapes. Now I know the next time I go to California (unfortunately I don’t see this happening in the near future), visiting Sonoma and the Wine Country will definitely be part of the trip!
I enjoyed many facets of Eight Hundred Grapes. The way Laura describes the family’s vineyard is filled with such vivid imagery and detailed descriptions. The fact that many of the characters have secrets and flaws, made the story that much more authentic and relatable. These two qualities also describe Georgia perfectly. She had to deal with a multitude of things all at once. Unfortunately many people can identify with this, including myself. I also enjoyed how past memories were interwoven throughout the story.
I highly recommend adding this to your summer reads list! It will make an excellent companion for a weekend at the beach or a day at the pool.
I've never had much interest in wineries, as I drink wine on a minimal basis (mostly on Shabbat). However, Laura Dave's description of the Last Straw Vineyard made me interested in going on a winery tour sometime. It was fascinating to learn the intricacies of the wine-making process. Definitely something I'll be thinking about the next time I have a drink after my husband makes Kiddush.
What I really liked about Eight Hundred Grapes, and what set it apart from most of the novels I read, is the family dynamic that winds throughout the story. It wasn't just about Georgia, but also about her parents and brothers, as well as their relationships with each other, with romantic partners, and with Georgia herself. This moved the dialogue along at a strong and steady pace. There were some intense moments, as well. I normally don't get into TV shows and movies that focus on big families, with the exception of Modern Family, which is a comedy. However, after reading Eight Hundred Grapes, I became more inclined to finally check out Parenthood. (Some pushing from my friends helped with that too.) And I'm glad I did!
This is my first experience reading a novel by Laura Dave. I don't know what her writing style is in her other novels, but I do know that she uses description really well, allowing readers to easily visualize the people and scenery. I especially enjoyed the food descriptions. (I want Georgia to take me for pancakes at her favorite café!) However, Laura tends to rely on cliché phrases and sometimes a scene or conversation would just drop off at the end of a chapter instead of building on to the next one. The latter didn't happen all the time, but still enough to be noticeable. While I was worried the story would be predictable, there were a lot of twists and surprises, and the plot kept me guessing.
Overall, a relatable and compelling story. I'm glad I gave it a chance.
I know that Eight Hundred Grapes has been optioned for film and I'd be interested to see how it plays out. I hope a Hollywood executive sees this review though...
Georgia: Shenae Grimes-Beech
Jen (Georgia's mom): Jessica Lange
Dan (Georgia's dad): Scott Bakula
Ben (Georgia's fiancé): Henry Cavill
Finn (Georgia's brother): Ryan Eggold (I couldn't think of anyone to play Bobby though!)
Jacob (Works at rival winery): Brandon Routh
Margaret (Bobby's wife): Brooklyn Decker
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the book in exchange for an honest review.
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