It’s no surprise that Laura Dave has found success as a writer across all platforms. Her experience writing for the big and small screens shines in this novel. Eight Hundred Grapes is the perfect marriage between the written word and moving pictures: It’s got likeable characters that are both flawed and believable, a gripping central conflict that many people will both understand and not be enviable of, and bite-sized scenes that are perfect for keeping the pace moving.
In Eight Hundred Grapes, Georgia is all set to marry Ben, a truly lovely bloke in all the ways that matter … except for the one mistake he made – he kept something from Georgia. Or, rather, he kept someone a secret. Hooked? Yeah, it didn’t take me very long at all to read Dave’s story. Her characters are totally engaging – all with their own set of delicious problems, all putting on brave faces even (and in some cases especially) when in front of family, all silently burning in torment.
I love, love, love awkward moments (in literature, in case the universe gets any big ideas), and there’s no shortage of grapes to make a bottle of fine awkward wine in this novel. There is no right or wrong when it comes to what Georgia should do, and what drives this novel is the choice she has to make. White? Red? Maybe a Zinfandel will do. All equally appealing, but she needs to decide which one is better for her. I’m glad Dave allows her protagonist the opportunity to waffle between her choices because life is like that: It’s rarely neat and never easy. I really enjoyed the mess that Georgia has to find her way out of. I also enjoyed the storyline between Georgia’s parents. As children, we forget sometimes that our parents had a love story before we ever came along, so it was exciting to read Dave’s exploration of love in a marriage many decades in the making.
And if that’s not enough conflict for you, revel in the mixing vat that is Georgia’s brothers’ conundrum. You’ll need a glass of wine to help the medicine go down. Speaking of which … Squinks, if you’re reading this, close your eyes for a paragraph while I talk to your parents for a minute …
Parents, Laura Dave very kindly gave me a copy of her suggested wine pairings for this delectable book. If/when you get your hands on Eight Hundred Grapes, she suggests having by your side a glass of La Marca Prosecco (for the first part), Lynmar Chardonnay (for the second and third), and Ridge Zinfandel (for the fourth and fifth).
Okay, a last word from me: DON’T read this book if you’ve only got a few minutes here and there. That may be enough to read a chapter or two, but you’ll definitely want to carve out an afternoon for this one. And that afternoon will lead into a book-club meeting or a girls’ night in of discussion. Also, DON’T read this story if you’re not into witty one-liners or charming characters. Lastly, DON’T read this book if you like things orderly and resolved. If you can’t stand bittersweet awkward encounters, mosey on along.
Have you read Eight Hundred Grapes yet? What did you think? I’m looking forward to reading Dave’s other stories!
Laura Dave’s Online Corners
Thank you, Simon and Schuster Canada, for sending me a copy of
Eight Hundred Grapes in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.