Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Books Read: Roisin McAuley - French Secrets

Source - Received from publisher for review

Love and fine wine go together, but in both cases it's important to recognise the real thing.

Will Honor Brady find true love with wine merchart Hugo Lancaster who sweeps her off to his chateau in France? 

Her friend Diarmuid Keenan doesn't think so.  But then, he can't find the real thing himself.

Is winemake Didier Rousseau really interested in Honor - or in Hugo's chateau?   

And will young American Melanie Millar find roots in the same chateau through a wartime secret in her family past?

I was very fortunate to be sent a copy of this book to review but even if I hadn't, this is one book that I would have eventually bought having read all 3 of her previous books.  Although if I'm honest I didn’t enjoy the last 2 books as much as I had enjoyed her debut novel, Singing Bird, which I loved.

The book spans the lives of three different characters, Melanie, a young American winemaker student, Honor, an Irish thirty-something bit-part actress who has literally been swept off her feet by the man of her dreams, Hugo, and Didier, a winemaker from France.  At first it’s hard to see how the storylines will interlink when they start out in 3 different countries but over time it becomes clearer.

Melanie’s link is her beloved Poppa who was an injured US soldier rescued in war-torn France and looked after by a French family.  After he collapses and ends up in hospital he reveals a long hidden secret that he had fathered a child, Dominique, with the daughter of the family.  So Melanie is intrigued to find out more about this new Uncle she didn’t know that she had and takes up the opportunity to travel to Europe representing the vineyard she works for where she meets Honor and Didier.

Honor moved to London to join a theatre company but acting work was sparse so her best friend, Diarmuid, persuades her to do some promotion work which sees her dressed up as a squirrel at a wine trade fayre which is where she meets the charming Hugo Lancaster.  After a whirlwind romance, Hugo whisks Honor off to his chateau in the Bordeaux region but Hugo is not all that he seems...

Often left on her own for periods of time, Honor has nothing else to do but discover the delights of the region for herself.  It is during this time that she meets the local family, which includes Didier, who once lived in the chateau that she herself is now living in and it is apparent that there is a story behind how they lost their beloved chateau.  

As the lives of Melanie, Honor and Didier become interlinked we find out about various acts of deceit that have happened over the years that have had an impact on the lives of the people that they love.

Once I started reading I found that I didn’t want to stop which is a sign of a good book to me. You can’t help but love and loathe in equal measures the various characters encountered throughout the book.  I’m sure we’ve all encountered our fair share of rogues like Hugo Lancaster at some stage in our lives!

This book deserves to be read whilst enjoying a glass, or two, of a crisp white wine... well it would be rude not to seeing as the wine industry is the backdrop of the novel.

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