The effortlessly charming, feel-good novel I hoped it would be.
Why I love it
Eight Hundred Grapes was the effortlessly charming, feel-good novel I hoped it would be when I picked it up. I was really in the mood for something lighter and fun, like Maggie Shipstead's Seating Arrangements or J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine, and Eight Hundred Grapes did not disappoint. This is a perfect summer novel, an absolute delight, set amid California's gorgeous wine country.
A week before her wedding to the seemingly-perfect Ben, Georgia, a thirty-year-old Los Angeles attorney, learns a shocking secret about her fiancé that sends her running home to her family's Sonoma vineyard. (She arrives in her wedding dress, immediately cementing her image in my mind as that of Julia Roberts.) Georgia expects returning to the idyllic scene of her childhood to be just the comfort she needs to get her through her tough time. But what she finds is a family falling apart, and the family's vineyard sold to the hated competition.
Georgia goes into crisis mode, attempting to fix everyone else's problems, while trying unsuccessfully to ignore her own. As she runs around trying to put out fires, she realizes she's falling back in love with her family's home, and the beautiful land around her. I don't know much about wine, but the vivid descriptions of lush fields of grapes and the delicious aromas of wine had me wanting to book a trip to wine country! Plus, the details about the winemaking process are really interesting as well.
While the growing of grapes and the making of wine is such an obvious analogy of life — "The best things are worth waiting for!," "If you don’t nurture something, it will die on the vine!" — Laura Dave's storytelling is so bright and breezy it never feels like she's beating you over the head with it. The life lessons are hidden behind wry dialog and absurd situations, not to mention mouthwatering descriptions of wine and vineyards. In the end, Dave reminds us that sometimes people, like wine, need a little space to breathe.