Monday, August 4, 2014

True Vines by Diana Strinati Baur

Book Summary

When the Italian countryside simply won't leave your heart ... 

After the sudden death of her Italian winemaker husband, Meryl Michelli flees to her small hometown in Pennsylvania, looking to slam the door on heartache and trudge forward. But it's never that simple, especially when old family ties have been strained by years of geographic and emotional distance. A chance encounter with a childhood friend brings back a betrayal she could never put to rest, and readjusting to life in the States in upper mid-life wears her thin in ways she never could have imagined. Just when Meryl feels she can't go on, Providence steps in and gives her permission to completely fall apart. Only then can she finally manage to grieve both her magnanimous, flawed Francesco and the unforgettable country she left behind.
True Vines traverses the manicured rows of northern Italy's majestic wine country and the winding path of Pennsylvania's Delaware River as Meryl seeks to reconcile her past and her present. Several people on each side of the Atlantic guide her as she relives her own stories: a spirited sister-in-law, a petulant physician, a strong-willed landlady, a good-guy boss, a determined mother-in-law, an amazing flood survivor, a Senegalese English student, a young co-worker. Each recollection and encounter deepens Meryl's insight into how to make peace with her new reality. 

Saying goodbye to one existence allows Meryl to swing the door open to another as she weaves a new, uniquely beautiful tapestry that transports her to exactly the place in this short, sacred life she is meant to be.


I rarely read contemporary novels, but this particular novel grabbed my interest because it had an Italian setting and it had so many 5 star reviews. And now that I've read the novel, I have to say that it is one of the best novels I've read and enjoyed this year. 

The story begins as the main character, Meryl, returns to the USA after the death of her husband and after having lived in Italy for more than a decade. Page by page, like peeling the skin off a delicate onion, the author reveals Meryl's tale with a deep introspection and very lush descriptive details. The writing is so perfect and complete, that it actually feels as if you are living with the character and have become a part of her life. I could not help but suffer over her failures and triumph over her victories. I especially enjoyed the way the heroine gained insight and wisdom as she lived her life. And very few books succeed in doing all this.  

The author's ability to relay a good yarn with a highly satisfying ending that leaves no questions unanswered is nothing short of magnificent. I can only say this that is truly an amazing book - one of my all time favorites. I cannot recommend it enough. Go get it. Get it now. And start reading. You won't be disappointed. 

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