156. The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox
Author: Elizabeth Knox
Series: it's not a series, exactly, but there's a sequel called THE ANGEL'S CUT
Publisher: Picador in North America; Vintage in the UK
Publication Year: 1998
Price: $18 CAD, $15 USD, £7.99 GBP
Status: library, unfortunately
One evening, a young vintner named Sobran Jodeau steals two bottles of his family's wine and heads off into the vineyard to get raving drunk in honour of his first real heartache. He stumbles along the way, and an angel catches him before he falls. The two discuss Sobran's recent rejection, and the angel offers him some advice. When he comes back the next year to check on the vintner's progress, the two come to a decision: they'll meet on this night every year for the rest of Sobran's life. As the years pass, their friendship shifts into something else; something that changes both their lives forever.
So we've got the reviews where I stay nice and organized and the reviews where I ramble. This one's a rambler.
I started this book last Thursday morning. I read a few chapters. Then I read a few more chapters. Then I forced myself to take a break before reading just a couple of chapters more.
Then I realized what I was doing with the rest of the day. (Hint: it involved lying on the couch, reading).
This book is all about the layers, and y'all know I love stuff like that. Knox structures the narrative in such a way that each chapter covers one year of Sobran's life. Some of these chapters are as short as a single line, while others last for dozens of pages. Most are quite brief, which makes it oh-so easy to read just one more... and then another... and then maybe three or four after that, 'cause what the hell, they're short. Every year builds on the others in such a way that we get a complete picture of Sobran's life through the decades.
Knox's prose is downright irresistible. It's elegant and succinct and quietly beautiful. I will say, though, that it's rarely transparent; I sometimes had to work for the meaning, but it was always worth it. I sank deep into the rhythm and rarely wanted to surface for air.
Thing is, I didn't get so much of that while I was reading it. I mean, yeah, I noticed how deeply involved I was, and I picked up on the beautiful writing, but I didn't realize how much the book affected me until I'd finished it. To be honest, I thought it was a tad distanced; it was beautiful, but I wasn't sure I'd really felt it. I read the last page and put it down. I congratulated myself on finishing it so quickly. I went on to other things.
And then, about two hours later, the book CRASHED INTO ME.
THE VINTNER'S LUCK is one of those stories that sneaks up on you. You're reading along, utterly convinced that the novel is beautiful without being moving, when suddenly you realize that it's now part of your life. It's in you, and it's going to be with you forever. You can't stop thinking about it. You almost wish you hadn't read it so quickly, though you don't see how you could have slowed down. You wish the book was twice as long; nay, three times. You're sorry to have left it. You miss it.
Which is me right now. I miss this elegant, beautiful book. I've already ordered the sequel/companion volume, and I intend to read it as soon as it arrives. I'll be sorry to leave Sobran and his family behind, but at least I'll still have Xas the angel and Knox's gorgeous prose to carry me on through.
Care's Online Book Club
just add books
Only three reviews? I must have missed some... or perhaps I just feel that way because I've been discussing this with folks on Twitter. Hmm. Anyways, if I've missed your review, please let me know so I can link to it.