Review: The Champagne War by Fiona McIntosh

Title: The Champagne War

Author: Fiona McIntosh

Published: November 2020, Michael Joseph

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

Set in France during World War I, The Champagne War by Fiona McIntosh is a grand tale of romance, resilience, courage and champagne.

It is love at first sight between Sophie Delancré, a fifth generation champenoise, and vigneron Jerome Méa, but they have mere weeks together following their wedding in 1914 before Jerome must leave his bride to do his duty in defence of France. Determined that the production of the Delancré House will not falter despite the war, Sophie throws herself into her dual role of tending the vines and making her champagne while she waits for the return of her new husband. When the news that Jerome is missing, lost in action when his position in Ypres was attacked during the first deployment of Chlorine gas by the Germans, reaches her a year later, Sophie is devastated, but without a body, refuses to relinquish the hope that he is alive somewhere. As the war drags on and the fighting creeps closer, Sophie and those left behind in the villages of Épernay and Reims, nevertheless continue to nurture the vineyards and ensure the production of their champagne, though to do so risks placing Sophie in the debt of her odious brother-in-law, Louis.

Sophie is a wonderful character, she is a smart, strong, passionate, and independent woman, but her loyalty to her family’s legacy is near all-consuming. With Jerome missing, presumed dead, and the privations of war worsening affecting her ability to produce champagne, Sophie becomes vulnerable to Louis’s manipulation. It’s the fortuitous arrival of injured British Army Captain and former chemist, Charlie Nash, that provides Sophie with an alternative, not only to her grief and loneliness, but also her desperate need for sugar.

Charlie is the only member of his company to survive a fierce battle on the outskirts of Reim, having been badly injured he is invited to convalesce at Sophie’s home in Épernay along with a dozen or so other soldiers. He is an appealing character, revealing himself to be a principled man despite the compromises demanded by war. Charlie is immediately infatuated with Sophie, who is surprised to find she returns his interest, even though she can’t let go of the hope that Jerome still lives.

Though romance is an essential element of The Champagne War, the story is much more than just that. As always, McIntosh masterfully weaves historical fact into her tale of fiction. The story is meticulously researched in terms of location, period and the specifics of the champagne industry. The horrors of war, particularly as experienced by Jerome and Charlie, are portrayed with authenticity, and though I personally dislike the taste of champagne, I still found learning about its complex production and makeup to be interesting. For those that enjoy a drop or two, Fiona has thoughtfully provided a bonus, recipe’s for Sabayon and Champagne Truffles.

The Champagne War is a sparkling, elegant, and effervescent, novel, to be savoured.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia

Also by Fiona McIntosh reviewed at Book’d Out

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yvonne (It's All About Books)
    Dec 02, 2020 @ 00:55:33

    Fantastic review! I definitely love the sound of this story. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Mystica
    Dec 04, 2020 @ 01:14:26

    I like the historical fiction bit coming into the story. Sounds good and thank you for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  4. Izabel Brekilien
    Dec 15, 2020 @ 20:16:17

    Oh yes, I remember now that you mention it, I’ve added it to my TBR 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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