Monday, June 15, 2015

book review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

The backstory: Laura Dave is one of my favorite novelists. I've loved all three of her novels: London is the Best City in America, The Divorce Party, and The First Husband. After four years of waiting, I was thrilled to read her latest novel.

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
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Eight Hundred Grapes from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Laura Dave's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. Has it really been four years since The First Husband? I loved that one SO much. Granted, I loved this one too. I've been drinking much more wine lately because of it too, trying out biodynamic wine and all that. I'm not really into women's lit, but I love the way Laura writes. Yay for Eight Hundred Grapes!

    1. Right? If my review hadn't told me, I wouldn't have believed it either. I've loved all of her books!

  2. Your review is the second I've read of this book so far and both you of you enjoyed it. I have a copy so now I am pretty excited to read it.

  3. Totally new to me author -- will have to grab her from the library, esp as I uh-dore the line you shared! That's so good!

    Also, I cannot, cannot wait for your review of Primates of Park Avenue -- I'm so intrigued!

    1. Listening to Primates on audio, but am almost over. It is fascinating, if a bit uneven:-)

      I think you'd really like Laura Dave. All of her novels are filled with so much wisdom, but they are all essentially love stories. Easy to read, but lots to digest!

  4. I have a copy and will be picking it up soon. I read The First Husband and really liked it but haven't read any of her other novels. I'm glad this one lived up to your expectations!

    1. Heather, I'll look forward to your thoughts!


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