The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery
Published by Harlequin ISBN 9781488077760
Hardcover, $27.99, 400 pages
I have been interested in wineries and vineyards since a trip we made a trip to Napa Valley a few years ago, so I was intrigued by Susan Mallery's newest novel, The Vineyard at Painted Moon.
Mackenzie is a well-respected winemaker at her husband Rhys Barcella's family vineyard, Bel Apres Winery, in Walla Walla, Washington. She met his sister Stephanie at college, and they have been best friends ever since. All four of the Barcella adult children live on the grounds of the winery, under the careful and critical eye of their mother Barbara.
Barbara freely shares her harsh opinions of her children with them- Rhys, Stephanie (divorced with two teens), Lori (who just wants her mother's respect), and Elizabeth (whom she calls Four). Elizabeth is an artist, a free spirit with a happy marriage and wonderful young children, which makes her mother crazy. Barbara adores Mackenzie and respects her work ethic and talent, and feels like Mackenzie is family.
Rhys and Mackenzie seem to be just going through the motions of a marriage. They love each other, but there is no passion there. When Rhys asks for a divorce, Mackenzie decides it's time to strike out on her own.
This decision enrages Barbara, who sees this as a betrayal. Her family took Mackenzie in and gave her a career. Mackenzie might be willing to stay if she could own a piece of the winery, as all of Barbara's children do. She has worked hard to earn that, but Barbara refuses.
I very much enjoyed learning all about the winery business from the perspective of the vineyard owner, I haven't read many novels with that setting. The family dynamic is fascinating, combining the normal familial relationships with the business relationships.
There were some wonderful touches- flying the "cookie flag" outside the house when someone has made fresh cookies, inviting other family members to bring their takeout containers, the personal chef who makes dinner every night for the family members and leaves lunch for the next day (I want that service), and the fact that tea towels became such a big seller in the cafe with the tourists.
Mackenzie has to face big changes and decide what she really wants out of life. Is owning a piece of a vineyard worth losing the only family she has?
At the end of the book, Susan Mallery includes helpful information about wine pairings- what type of wine to drink with any dish, as well as a few quinoa salad recipes.
We've been doing wine-tasting Zooms, and I think that The Vineyard at Painted Moon would be a great way to combine Book Club with Wine Tasting Zooms. If you enjoy wine and interesting family stories as I do, put The Vineyard at Painted Moon on your to-be-read list.
Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Susan Mallery's tour.