The Winemaker’s Wife

Written by Kristin Harmel
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

Straddling two time periods, The Winemaker’s Wife chronicles the little-known story of the French resistance in the Champagne region of France during the Nazi occupation in the mid-1940s.

In the present, Liv is still reeling from her divorce and her joblessness. Her 99-year-old feisty grandmother, Edith, shows up at her door and whisks her away to France without telling her why. While in France, Edith is acting strangely, and it is clear she is keeping secrets from her granddaughter. In the meantime, Liv is becoming enamored of Julien, her grandmother’s attorney, but a misunderstanding threatens to undermine their budding relationship.

In alternating chapters, the reader meets Inès and Celine, both of whom live and work at the vineyards of Chauveau. Inès is married to the proprietor, Michel, while Celine and her husband, Theo, live in the neighboring cottage. Inès’s marriage to Michel is strained, and she can never seem to do anything right. Her hope for a friendship with Celine, who is half Jewish, never comes to fruition. Meanwhile, Michel is deeply involved in the underground resistance; his refusal to let his wife help leads Inès to make a disastrous mistake that will have life-changing consequences for everyone.

The author’s research into the time period and the resistance efforts in the Champagne region is impeccable, as she brings a fascinating story to life with flawed but endearing characters. The book, which explores betrayal, regret, redemption, and forgiveness, is a delight from start to finish. It not only sheds light on an important time period in history but it is a fascinating read that would be popular with book clubs and anyone interested in World War II fiction.