“Everyone will have gone then except us, because we’re tied to this soil by a roomful of trunks where the household goods and clothing of grandparents are kept, and the canopies that my parenrs’ horses used when they came to Macondo, fleeing from the war. We’ve been sown into this soil by the memory of the remote dead whose bones can no longer be found twenty fathoms under the earth. The trunks have been in the room ever since the last days of the war; and they’ll be there this afternoon when we come back from the burial, if that final wind hasn’t passed, the one that will sweep away Macondo, its bedrooms full of lizards and its silent people devastated by memories.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Leaf Storm and Other Stories
A few months ago I saw a post on Twitter from Gemelli Press and the title of the book it mentioned–True Vines—intrigued me. Being the consummate book nerd that I am, I became completely engulfed with finding out about this book. I tried to do so on my iPhone while sitting on the subway but the WiFi connection kept disappearing (what a luxury problem!), so I decided to wait until I was in the office to continue my search.
True Vines is a beautifully written novel by Diana Strinati Baur that tells the story of Meryl, an expat American dealing with the sudden death of her Italian winemaker husband. Instead of remaining in Italy and taking care of the vineyard, Meryl returns to her hometown in Pennsylvania, where she hopes to start fresh and repair the strained relationship she has with her sister, Janie. But already from the onset, Meryl begins to doubt whether coming home was a good idea. She is unable to push aside the memories of her life in Italy and, in her hometown, she keeps bumping into the very people who led to her exodus from Pennsylvania in the first place. But even with difficulties of readjusting to life in America after having lived a much freer life in Italy, Meryl finds that sometimes life has a way of surprising her with new acquaintances and recollections of the life she had prior to meeting Francesco, the Italian who changed her life.
Each chapter in True Vines reads like a short story. And perhaps it’s the references to winemaking that make me wish I had a glass of red wine–a barbera perhaps?–and a plate of antipasti to savour while I read.
So if you’re looking for literary women’s fiction that will touch your heart and transport you to a vineyard in autumnal fog or a sleepy town in Pennsylvania nestled on the banks of the Delaware River, then you should pick up a copy of True Vines. It’s beautifully written and paints evocative images with light, deft strokes.
My rating? A definite 5-star novel. Absolutely loved it!
Happy reading (and writing)!