Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: The Wharf of Chartrons


A family linked by wine and old rivalries sets out for new territory, during the turmoil of World War I.

David and Gaspard are cousins, bonded by family and their allegiance to their winemaking heritage. Parting with tradition and moving their vineyards near Bordeaux threatens to upset the family peace, but that’s only the beginning of their trouble. Short on funds, they are forced to team with a wealthy but morally corrupt engineer—though perhaps at a cost too high for the cousins…

Despite the odds, David and Gaspard succeed in making a successful wine, Clos-Marzacq. Along the way, they each fall in love, though not always in the best of circumstances. And now, to cement their successes, the cousins need to secure a stronghold on the Wharf of Chartrons, seen as the gateway to selling into England and America.

The Wharf of Chartrons exalts the passion of men who have a love of their land, and who are concerned about drawing the very best wine from it.


I'm a big fan of historical fiction, especially when the book is set in France, so I was drawn to this book. It is set in the Bordeaux region of France, which is a region I haven't visited but would love to someday.  In the book, two cousins leave their family vineyard behind to start anew in Bordeaux. 

The author weaves together a story of the toils and triumphs of running a vineyard with the story of the lives of the two cousins.  They definitely encountered some bumps along the way, both professionally and personally.  Some bumps were handled better than others and I definitely preferred one character, David, over the other character, Gaspard. 

I haven't toured a vineyard before so haven't given much thought to all of the labor that goes into making a wine.  It definitely gave me an appreciation for the hard work that goes into each bottle of wine.  You also learn about some questionable practicing, such as lacing the wine with wine from another region during years when the harvest is bad.  I love the fact that the author of this book actually lives in the region where the book was set as I feel that improves the authenticity of the book and impacts the author's ability to vividly describe the region.

All in all it was an entertaining book and filled my France fix for the month.   


Jean-Paul Malaval was a journalist before turning to a career as a writer of local photography books and later fiction.

In 1982, he began what would become a long-term relationship with the publishing house Éditions Milan, in Toulouse.  To date, Jean-Paul Malaval has written ten works of historical fiction, mainly based in the region where he grew up, the Corrèze, which is near the Dordogne. Five of his ten novels have been published by Presses de la Cité.  He is loyal to his home region and has been mayor of the town of Vars-sur-Roseix in Corrèze since 1995.

Visit the wikipedia page on him [in French]
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Anonymous said...

thanks for your nice review. Glad you had France fix for the month, lol

Marlys said...

That was a sweet post from the author! Sounds like an interesting book!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Oooooh wine!!! Haha! I don't know if I've ever read a piece of historical fiction.

Amber said...

After spending the last two weekends wine touring I have become REALLY interested in the wine industry and even found myself daydreaming and perusing jobs in the industry the other day (just for fun!) I think I would really like this book!

Abby said...

Sounds like a really interesting book! I have to say I'm fascinated by wine making. Not only do they grow and Harvest their "crop", but they process and bottle it - which is different from the farming we grew up around.

Sounds like an interesting read! I bet there was a lot of passion in the authors words since he writes of the region where he grew up!

Stephany said...

One thing I most love about reading is how it introduces us to topics we're not very familiar with! I don't know much about wine or the wine-making process so it would be interesting to learn more about it in a fun way!