Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Vineyard - Barbara Delinsky

Natalie Seebring's children are appalled at her decision to remarry months after the death of her husband of fifty-eight years. Faced with their disapproval, and determined to reveal secrets she has kept for decades, Natalie hires Olivia Jones, a lonely young single mother, to help write her memoir. Olivia longs to be part of a big happy family, and a summer at Natalie's beautiful vineyard by the sea seems the first step in realising this dream. But as the past is laid bare, their lives will change forever.

So far, this has to be my least favourite Delinsky novel. It was perfectly readable and a compelling story, but it didn’t have the usual engaging characters or the “pull” that made me not want to put it down. I’ve enjoyed a couple of Delinsky’s older novels – such as A Woman Betrayed and The Woman Next Door – but this one was missing something that even those books had. I didn’t care about the characters as much and to begin with Olivia just annoyed me with her neediness. I did find the story about Natalie’s life fascinating and found myself thinking that it would have worked well as a purely historical novel about her family and the history of the vineyard. Like with many books that focus on both the past and the present, I preferred the past. Olivia did grow on me and I did care about her and her daughter, but her relationship with Simon seemed to change so quickly that it was almost unrealistic. Likewise, everyone’s relationship problems seemed to be sorted out very quickly at the end of the story, and although I like happy endings, it was a bit cheesy how it all worked out so easily. All in all, I did enjoy reading this book and it was something I could read on my long bus journey between Edinburgh and St. Andrews, but it’s definitely not one of Delinsky’s best. I’d only recommend it to hardcore Delinsky fans desperate to read all her books or someone wanting a cheap, quick read for a holiday or a long commute. 6/10 

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