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Burgundy, 1808. One night Sobran Jodeau, a young vintner, meets an angel in his vineyard: a physically gorgeous creature with huge wings that smell of snow, a sense of humour and an inquiring mind. They meet again every year on the midsummer anniversary of the date. Village life goes on, meanwhile, with its affairs and mysteries, marriages and murders, and the vintages keep improving - though the horror of the Napoleonic wars and into the middle of the century, as science marches on, viticulture changes, and gliders fly like angels. Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099273899
ISBN-10: 0099273896
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 16mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 2-Mar-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Wine is relatively incidental to this constantly surprising narrative set in early 18th-century Southern Burgundy. Sobran Jodeau grows vines and makes wine with increasing skill, but merely as a backdrop to his encounters with a disconcertingly human angel and French country life intrigue - murder, suicide and assorted and illicit passions. The earthier aspects of this magical tale are well balanced with the more celestial themes. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » This American debut by a veteran New Zealand novelist is a wonderfully imaginative tale, set in the 19th-century French countryside, of the long enduring, loving relationship between a man and an angel. The former is 18-year-old Sobran Jodeau, scion of a family of winemakers, who while drunk and unhappy in love encounters Xas, the celestial being who will thereafter visit him annually - until the angel's intimacy with his human lover propels him headlong into Sobran's complicated family and romantic life. The story is arguably overplotted (especially in later sequences that detail Xas's masquerade as tutor to Sobran's children or that explore the unconventional triangle formed by man, angel, and the younger noblewoman who eventually becomes Sobran's mistress). But a ferocious display of inventive power redeems and enlivens even the book's more extravagant convolutions. Knox's flexible, image-driven sentences effortlessly evoke the lush plenitude of Clos Jodeau and environs, as well as Xas's ineffable strangeness (sleeping in Sobran's bed, "He looked comical, like a young man sharing his bed with two large dogs, the humps his wings made under the covers"). "Fallen angel" Xas, rejected by both God and Lucifer for his intellectual curiosity as much as for his dalliance with a mortal, is a formidable creation. And Knox equals it with her searching portrayal of Sobran: an intelligent, perceptive man who passes through astonishment at the visitation that becomes the love of his life, through furious despair when he learns of Xas's fallen state and fears he has committed blasphemy, to a resigned old age in which he knows he can neither keep nor relinquish the vessel of grace (if indeed it be such) granted to him decades before. A one-of-a-kind novel. It's not for Touched by an Angel watchers, but many readers may respond as ecstatically to Knox's brilliantly original book as they did to Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Elizabeth Knox

Elizabeth Knox is the author of five books, including the international success Black Oxen, but The Vintner's Luck was the first to be published outside her native New Zealand. It met great critical and popular success, was longlisted for the Orange Prize and turned into a film in 2009. She is married and lives with her family in Wellington.

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