THE VINTNER’S DAUGHTER

Kristen Harnisch

In 1895, seventeen-year-old Sara Thibault’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as master winemaker at their stunning Loire Valley family vineyard, Saint Martin. Although many don’t understand her ambition, Sara forges ahead toward her goal with a determination that will soon prove essential.

When Sara’s father is killed in a mudslide, her mother sells their land to a business rival whose eldest son married Sara’s sister, Lydia. Sara is shocked and deeply disappointed, having hoped to take over, to make her father proud. Disappointment quickly turns to fear when she realizes that her new brother-in-law Bastien has no real interest in the vineyard and far too much interest in her.

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In 1895, seventeen-year-old Sara Thibault’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as master winemaker at their stunning Loire Valley family vineyard, Saint Martin. Although many don’t understand her ambition, Sara forges ahead toward her goal with a determination that will soon prove essential.

When Sara’s father is killed in a mudslide, her mother sells their land to a business rival whose eldest son married Sara’s sister, Lydia. Sara is shocked and deeply disappointed, having hoped to take over, to make her father proud. Disappointment quickly turns to fear when she realizes that her new brother-in-law Bastien has no real interest in the vineyard and far too much interest in her.

A violent tragedy compels the sisters to flee to America. Sara plans to eventually reclaim her family’s vineyard, but for now she travels to California in hopes of making her own way in the winemaking world. When she encounters Bastien’s brother, Philippe—a man as committed to bringing his brother’s killer to justice as he is to building the largest vineyard in the Napa region—they are instantly drawn to each other. But now she must make a choice: to risk discovery or run again. Will he help her regain Saint Martin, or prosecute her for her crime? How much more can she lose? And what loss is finally too great to bear?

Kristen Harnisch’s sweeping debut is a tale of betrayal, retribution, love, and redemption. The Vintner's Daughter is a captivating story that immerses readers in the rich cultures of the Loire Valley, New York, and Napa and a tenacious heroine’s fight to determine her own destiny.

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  • She Writes Press
  • Paperback
  • August 2014
  • 355 Pages
  • 9781631529290

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$16.95

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About Kristen Harnisch

Kristen Harnisch drew upon her extensive research and experiences living in the San Francisco Bay Area and visiting the Loire Valley to create the story for The Vintner's Daughter, the first in a series about the changing world of vineyard life at the turn of the 20th century. Harnisch has a degree in economics from Villanova University and currently resides in Connecticut.

Praise

One of the novel’s highlights is its rich history of the wine-making process through the eyes of a woman who is passionate and meticulous about each step…. In the beginning, [Sara] endures nonstop pain and loss, but these tragedies transform her from a smart, hardworking girl into an independent, resourceful woman. At its core, The Vintner’s Daughter is a story of perseverance and transcending one’s past.”—Booklist

A young French woman, determined to pursue her dreams, shows resourcefulness and endurance as she journeys from her home to America in a novel set in the late 1800s….the plot is engaging and well-paced. Wine aficionados and fans of romance and historical fiction will drink this in.”

—Kirkus Reviews

Lush and evocative, this novel brings the Loire Valley and its glorious vineyards to life in a story that will delight readers everywhere. Enjoy with your favorite glass of Merlot!—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife

… will invoke inevitable comparisons to Gone with the Wind…. A pleasure.—Roberta Rich, author of The Harem Midwife and The Midwife of Venice

Discussion Questions

Sara’s story is one of loyalty, loss, love and redemption. What particular character traits do you most admire in her? How do her life experiences from age seventeen to nineteen transform her from an “impetuous, headstrong girl” to a “mature woman”?

How does the author use the various settings—Sara’s family vineyard in Vouvray, the convent, the slums of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and ultimately the rolling hills and sprawling vineyards of Napa—to accentuate Sara’s emotional journey?

Sara and Lydia are like “two sides of a coin, one minted for pageantry, the other for practicality.” As the story progresses, what do the sisters learn from each other?

Is Marguerite Thibault a failure as a mother? If so, what do you think motivates her choices?

Consider Sara’s quest to secure her place in the winemaking world, and the changing expectations for women in the late 1800s. As a man, does Philippe face changing expectations as well?

Bastien and Philippe’s personalities differ dramatically, even though they are brothers, and were raised by the same parents. Where does their difference in character stem from?

Objects play meaningful roles in this story. What values or sentiments are attached to Sara’s claret-colored shawl, Papa’s boots, Sara’s wooden cross and Maman’s Bible, for example?

Which secondary characters (Jacques, Bastien, Papa, Maman, Marie, Luc, Reverend Mother, the nuns, Aurora, the Chinese, Lamont, Linnette, etc.) influence Sara or Philippe the most? Why?

If you could sit down and chat with one of the characters over drinks, whom would you choose?

Which scene(s) from the novel do you find most memorable?

Now that you’ve finished reading The Vintner’s Daughter, what are your expectations for its sequel?