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Stella Matutina
books and stories and musings, oh my!
156. The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox 
19th-Nov-2009 06:45 am
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
Pages: 285
Price: $18 CAD, $15 USD, £7.99 GBP
Status: library, unfortunately

LibraryThing Info

Amazon Info

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.

4 stars

Other Reviews:

Care's Online Book Club
just add books
Libri Touches

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.
19th-Nov-2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, this sounds good.

Also - you changed your header! And is that the Jane Austen font? (I only ask because *booknerd aura* I used it on my wedding invites).
20th-Nov-2009 02:00 am (UTC)
I'm actually not sure what the font is! Mauie of Pachuvachuva customized it for me. :)
19th-Nov-2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I'm really, really hoping that Knox' prose is of the same quality in The Angel's Cut.

This book, though, is exquisite and has tons and tons of rereading potential since it tackles just about everything imaginable, and still manages to be a beautiful, coherent whole.

(Someday... *kicks self* Someday I'll get to rereading this.)
20th-Nov-2009 02:02 am (UTC)
I've got my fingers crossed for THE ANGEL'S CUT. Most reviewers seem to either love it to death or loathe it with a firey passion. I figure it's money well spent either way; I enjoyed THE VINTNER'S LUCK so much that Knox surely deserves some royalties from me, (well, beyond what she gets from me borrowing this from the library), and I'm pretty sure I'll be getting a used copy of the first book.
19th-Nov-2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
Angels, you say? Hmmmmm....
20th-Nov-2009 02:03 am (UTC)
Yes, angels! (Well, angel). I'm not sure it's quite what you're looking for with your angel/vampire survey, but it could be worth a shot?
23rd-Nov-2009 03:45 am (UTC) - Angel and Archangel!
Lucifer is one of the very best things about The Angel's Cut. If you liked his walk-on in The Vintner's Luck you'll love him in the sequel. For my money the prose is better in The Angel's Cut. But it has a very different love story. You think, 'Oh this is the love interest.' Then you think, 'Oh so it's this friend who he loves.' Then at the end you think, 'Hang on! Something very love-like has gone on here.' It sneaks up. I hope that is all too fuzzy to be spoilers!
24th-Nov-2009 01:50 am (UTC) - Re: Angel and Archangel!
I read a teaser with Lucifer in it, but I didn't realize he played a larger role. This is good news. :)
25th-Nov-2009 06:57 am (UTC)
Anything's worth a shot. :)
20th-Nov-2009 03:27 am (UTC)
Gah! Okay! This has been on my TBR pile since last Christmas, and on my wishlist since forever before that, but this is the kick in my pants that I needed to finally, finally pick it up. Thanksgiving! Or, at least, first week of December! It'll get read.
22nd-Nov-2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to hear what you think!
20th-Nov-2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
I've added it to my list!
22nd-Nov-2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it!
22nd-Nov-2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
I love it when books sneak up on me *adds to list*
23rd-Nov-2009 02:25 am (UTC)
I really think you'll like this one. There's so much going on on so many different levels, and the prose is so lovely I could've drowned in it.
26th-Jun-2010 01:30 am (UTC)
I realise I'm late to the party, but when I saw your review of Dreamhunter I followed the links back here to see what you made of Vintner's Luck (which is officially one of my favourite books ever). The way you describe it as "crashing into [you]" is exactly what happened to me. I still miss it, and I read it back in January! Great reviews. I'll definitely be following your blog in the future :)
28th-Jun-2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for coming by! I think THE ANGEL'S CUT might very well end up on my Top 10, after one more reading, and I'll be rather surprised if none of Knox's other books make my Long List.
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