Sunday, June 27, 2021

Blush by Jamie Brenner


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I spotted this novel a few months ago as I was ordering books for my library and thought "Hmmm" this may be an interesting read. 

I was correct.

 I will confess to drinking a glass of wine Friday night as I was reading the last 50 pages, but it wasn't a rose. I kid you not, if you're not a wine drinker, this novel will certainly tempt you to try a few. If you are a wine drinker, just settle back, pop the cork, and pour yourself a glass while you enjoy this novel about a family winery, 80's glam novels, and cheese. Yes, cheese. You'll want some cheese and crackers, too. 

The Hollander Estates Winery has been a hot spot for parties, day trips, and a big tourist attraction on the North Fork of Long Island for decades. What were once potato fields is now a gorgeous winery, complete with an equally gorgeous home to the Hollander duo of Leonard and Vivian. Newly married, the couple created the winery through years of hard work and effort. Their son Asher--who does not want to work at the winery, helps runs it. Their daughter Leah Hollander Bailey runs a successful cheese shop in New York City. Leah was, sadly, not given the chance to help run the winery with her father. He is not about to have a woman make the big decisions. Leah's cheese shop is not her passion and now her lease is up and she's got to make a decision to find another location or close shop. 

Leah, Steve (her husband), and Sadie her college age daughter arrive at the winery for a week of rest and relaxation. Instead, they hear the news that Leonard must sell the winery--the whole kit and caboodle, due to big losses. Vivian is beyond bereft--she had no idea. Again, Leonard not sharing. Leah wants to do whatever she can to save the winery, even if it means angering her father by pushing the idea of creating a Hollander Rose--the one thing Leonard refuses to do. 

Oh, there's a whole lot going on here! Sadie is in a college thesis crisis; Steve wants to move the cheese shop and is not happy Leah keeps putting off returning to NYC; Vivian is crushed she will lose her home. Asher just doesn't seem to care, and his much younger girlfriend rubs Vivian the wrong way. 

Enter Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz, and a few other big authors from the 1980's when glamorous women's fiction was all the rage. Sadie begins reading it, Leah follows (remembering how she would sneak the books as a kid), and some of that magic 80's tough heroine fiction rubs off. The show isn't over, not by a long shot. 

I so enjoyed this novel that I'm probably going to read Jamie Brenner's other novels, too. I didn't read Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz back in my teen years, but I was certainly aware of them--and can't forget those glam covers, either. It's pretty interesting how the characters they wrote about influence these women of 2021. Some call it trash fiction, but really, if it speaks to you, entertains, and years later still makes an impact, why would you call it trash? Sounds like darn good storytelling to me. 

This would make a great book club choice--head out to a winery with your friends to sip, nibble, and discuss. There is a lot to talk about! Probably enough for at least one bottle of wine...

Rating: 4/6 for a swiftly moving family novel with plenty of strong women who are just not going to take being in the back seat anymore. Plenty of information about how a winery operates, the magic of growing grapes, and oh, plenty of drama, too. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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