WINE AND WORK

PEOPLE LOVING LIFE

From a global cast of winemakers come intimate, revealing comments about their art, which swing between invigorating to mellow.

Three years, 50 people and a dozen countries later, Mullen returns with these insights into why folks involved with the wine trade are in love with their work. The reasons are legion but all of a part: being outdoors and in tune with the seasons, entering into a partnership with the grapes, pride in the art of creation and an independence of spirit; as one Slovenian winemaker said, “When we started we have opinions that are different than other guys.” What Mullen has delivered is essentially a transcript of the spoken word, as unvarnished as are many of these mostly unsung winemakers—there are plenty of abrupt transitions and digressions—an enjoyable collection that contains many a rough diamond who yet ably convey the passion they bring to their work. “I like drinking red wine. I like making red wine. I like thinking about red wine.” Mullen keeps the proceedings lively by covering not only lots of ground—New Zealand to Missouri, Washington to the Azores—but also lots of aspects of winemaking, from cooperage to corks, the challenging demands placed on women winemakers, research into screwcaps, the talents of the garagiste, winery architecture. Particularly impressive is a short course on Italian geology that blossoms into an earnest and enlightening dissection of the whole notion of terroir, as well as a wonderfully disarming story of a Frenchman who now makes cognac, but who came to the calling via Kent in England, where he worked at “a small winery in the town of Chiddingstone for a bit more than two years. That’s where I learned to make wine.” That is an admission perhaps unique in the long annals of winemaking. Included are photographs heavily saturated with atmosphere, the kind you can almost smell before you see them. A fine, maverick company of winemakers hold court about the thing they love best: communing with the world of the grape.

 

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9849565-0-0

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Roundwood Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2012

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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