Category Archives: General

The Outlander and D’Autrefois

Outlander 3

Diana Gabaldon’s first book, a historical romance titled Outlander (you may have heard of it—Starz recently created a series based on it) was intended as practice, just to see what it would be like to write a novel. Though it tends to wander and one scene near the end is distorted and just plain confusing, overall it’s an interesting, if long, read. By “long” I mean 850 dense pages. By “interesting” I mean entertaining and compelling.

Her main character, Claire, is a capable, intelligent, stubborn woman who finds herself in circumstances out of her own time and any logical understanding. Her obstinacy, love, and compassion drive her to fight on and persist in mostly shrewd ways. Despite her experience as a wartime nurse, she repeatedly underestimates the dangerous nature of her new environment, mainly because it’s simply outside the realm of possibility in her personal experience, having been suddenly thrown from 1945 British Isles into 1743 Scotland, which was at war not only with the British, but internally between clans. In this largely uneducated society where burning witches at the stake was an acceptable and common practice, Claire’s modern knowledge and behaviors are inherently dangerous.

The historical aspects of Outlander were compelling for me and drew me along where the story, romance, or characters started to lag. The setting and Claire’s experiences in it made me wish I knew more about Scottish history, both so that I could better understand the nature and depth of the perils she might be facing and how her presence and actions might, or potentially may already have, impacted her modern day.

What to drink with an epic historical romance like Outlander? Well, Claire is treated to a wine she describes as a very strong and delicious rosé by one of the Scottish chieftains, but I’ve yet to be introduced to a British or Scottish wine. If you know of one that you would recommend, please comment so that I can try it. For now, I’d recommend a light French pinot noir called D’Autrefois. It’s flavorful and has a reasonable price point so you don’t have to make one bottle stretch 850 pages.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

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Brilliantly disturbing book (Gone Girl) + simple fun wine (Ménage à Trois) = a perfect night in

Gone Girl

After reading prolifically for more than 30 years, it’s rare for me to be surprised. In fact, the last time I can remember being surprised by a plot twist is The Sixth Sense, but Ms. Flynn manages to do just that. Her characters and the story come alive from page 1, and despite the fact that the more you learn about these characters the less you like them, she somehow makes you desperate to know what happens to them anyway. Ms. Flynn creates a feeling of anxious hope that despite the depth of their flaws (think Grand Canyon), Amy and Nick Dunne or their circumstances will somehow come out “right” in the end.

Spoiler alert—The prosecutor in me was deeply offended by the lack of justice the ending provided. I would have preferred to see criminal charges and prison time. That said, though I may have disliked the outcome of Amy and Nick’s story, it was an appropriate and entirely plausible conclusion for them that may ironically be what they both deserve.

A story this complex and dark needs something simple and light to balance it out, so I would recommend a lovely red blend by Folie a Deaux, called Ménage à Trois.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

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Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

To someone just venturing into the creative life, the insights and experiences Ms. Shapiro shares in Still Writing: the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life were both informative and encouraging. Her honesty and openness regarding the downturns and perils, and her sheer joy at the pleasures of this life, along with her descriptions of the day-to-day process of writing made me feel less alone in my efforts. Her writing is raw and emotional, bringing the reader into her experiences. At times it felt like I was sitting with her, listening quietly over a cup of tea or a glass of wine. I truly appreciate Ms. Shapiro’s willingness to put her heart and soul in print so that we can learn from her journey.

A light Chardonnay or a cup of chamomile tea with a touch of honey would both complement this illuminating work by Ms. Shapiro.

Coming soon: Gone Girl and Game of Thrones

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Magic Breaks

The most recent release in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Breaks, offers more brilliant writing and imagination from the Ilona Andrews team. I fell in love with this series from the beginning and always not-so-patiently await the next release. Kate Daniels is strong, irreverent, resourceful, and fiercely loyal. She also gets to say and do things I could never get away with because I don’t carry a big sword. The post-shift world Kate lives in offers an endless array of magical creatures combined with both technical and magical challenges. Another plus—their twist on vampires and shapeshifters is both original and entertaining. This latest release continues Kate’s growth in maturity and power in an unexpected yet coherent way. Of course, it was great to have her and Curran working in tandem again, learning from their experiences in the previous book.

Considering the prevalence of shapeshifters, I would recommend the Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany Kate’s most recent adventures.

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For the love of books…and wine

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, Nancy Drew kept me company over one long summer, and I was hooked. Fortunately, we lived across the street from a library and I had an endless supply of books to support my new habit. In modern times, a library is never further away than wifi or a smartphone. Personally, I like the feel of a book and never leave the house without one stashed in my purse, briefcase, or backpack. My favorite pastime is to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine. This blog is intended for anyone who shares those passions.

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