Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel

Synopsis from Good Reads:

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…

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Eight Hundred Grapes will be available June 2, 2015.

Eight Hundred Grapes is a well-paced, character-driven novel about family and secrets. And wine.

Less than a week before her wedding is to take place, Georgia catches her fiancé in a lie. She runs away, back to her family’s vineyard to try to come to terms with it. However, once she returns she finds even more secrets. Her brothers are fighting, her parents are separating, and the vineyard is up for sale. Georgia works to fix everyone’s problems, while mostly ignoring her own.

There is a lot of cheating in this book. It’s different than most cheating books, though, in that it is emotional cheating. I found it just as intolerable, though. I thought Georgia’s mother was really selfish throughout much of the book. I thought Georgia was too forgiving of Ben, her fiancé. Margaret, Georgia’s sister-in-law kind of drove me nuts.

The thing, though, on why this book works, is because even though these characters were so unlikable most of the time, I was still rooting for them. I wanted Bobby and Margaret to stay together. I wanted Bobby and Finn to reconcile. I wanted Georgia’s parents to get back together. And I wanted Georgia to be happy, whether that meant reconciling with Ben and moving to London, or staying and trying to save her family’s vineyard – and see what can happen with all that chemistry with Jacob, the man who is buying the vineyard. When writing flawed, somewhat unlikable characters, it has to be done in such a way to let the reader empathize with them and Laura Dave really does a great job with that.

In addition to the many family storylines, we get information on wine and the wine-making process. I think wine aficionados will enjoy the extra information, but I kind of skimmed through those parts. I did appreciate, though, that the author didn’t go overboard with too much information, which a lot of authors seem to do to show off their research on any given subject.

Even though the characters frustrated me throughout most of the story, I liked how their storylines wrapped up. Not everything was clean and perfect, but it was still a happy book. I also really liked all the interactions between Georgia and Jacob. Their enemies to friends relationship and all their banter were the highlights of the book for me.

Overall, I liked Eight Hundred Grapes. Though the characters were often frustrating to me, they were well-written and I was really rooting for them. It was a quick read, one I finished in under 24 hours (though I was able to dedicate most of my Saturday to it). I think fans of contemporary and character-driven novels will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars