The basics: Set in Sebastopol, part of California' Sonoma County wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is the story of the Ford family, told from the perspective of their daughter, Georgia, who is a powerful Los Angeles attorney about to marry a British architect and move to London. Set against the grape harvest and the week before her wedding, each of the Fords, Georgia, her two brothers, and her parents, face challenges in their romantic and professional lives.
My thoughts: Laura Dave is such a smart writer. This novel is part family saga, part drama, part romance, but it's all smart. Through her characters and storylines, Dave imparts immense wisdom about life and love:
"Synchronization, my father would say. This was a very big word for him. Synchronization: The coordination of events to operate in union. A conductor managing to keep his orchestra in time. The impossible meeting of light reflection and time exposure that leads to a perfect photograph. Two yellow bugs parked in front of Lincoln Center at the same time, the love of your life in one of them. Not fate, my father would add. Don't confuse it with fate. Fate suggests no agency."The novel has two narratives. The main one takes place six months ago. There are also vignettes catching the reader up on key scenes in the Ford family over the years. The two narratives work with a beautifully symmetry and synchronization. Through these characters, Dave skillfully explores the complexities of love and fidelity and desire. I highlighted more than thirty passages in this novel. Some stand on their own merit, but some build upon the novel itself in stunning ways.
Favorite passage: "Wasn't the ultimate form of fidelity who you told your stories to?"
The verdict: Eight Hundred Grapes is an engrossing family saga filled with drama, romance, wisdom and action. Dave packs a lot of events and revelations into this slim novel. When I finished, I was already excited to read it again. If literary romance exists as a sub-genre, Laura Dave is it's leader.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 272 pages
Publication date: June 2, 2015
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