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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"A Bordeaux Dynasty" by Francoise Bourdin (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Order A Bordeaux Dynasty HERE (US) or HERE (UK)

"The Laverzac family gathers two times a year around its patriarch Aurélien on their magnificent vineyard in Bordeaux. But this particular summer, while there is a seeming euphoria over their reunion, a storm starts to simmer. One that is far more devastating than any that can beat down on the grapes. 

The vineyard’s future is at stake, and Aurélien, who has dedicated his whole life to it, fights to preserve his entire domain by choosing his successor in the face of all opposition. Only Jules, the youngest of the four sons, adopted thirty years earlier, seems to be the viable candidate. Jules possesses all of the necessary qualities to manage such an imposing domain—he is a natural born seducer, an excellent leader, and loves working the land. 

But why should the adopted son inherit this colossal fortune? The vineyard is rife with rumors. And Alexander, the only son to have stayed in the area, takes great offense. 

Passions will flare, fueled by the rivalry between the brothers, the jealousies of the women in their lives, the demands of the land, and the subtle hierarchy of the region where the only things that count are the grape harvest and the next vintage.

At the heart of the storms and drama, it is up to July alone to confront the ghosts of his past, and to shed light on his own background.

Through this rich story in the heart of the Bordeaux vineyards, Françoise Bourdin explores one family’s drama that threatens the future of its name and estate."

"A Bordeaux Dynasty" is an awesome soap opera - or family drama set in the world of the rich and powerful if you'd rather have the sub-genre named that way, though I really love soap operas when done well and do not think the term derogatory - set in the elite vineyards of Southern France.

The blurb gives a pretty accurate idea of what's what, though it doesn't fully convey the richness of its character cast. First and foremost, there is Jules, the irresistible, moody, mysteriously adopted son - and of course we do not know in the beginning if he is also a natural son of the family patriarch and whose 30th birthday celebration starts the book. 

Then then there are Robert the famous and rich Parisian surgeon and a minor celebrity in his own right, Louis-Marie his elder writer brother who got, married and has a daughter with the glamorous Pauline, Robert's former "love of a lifetime" and whom Robert still cannot get over even after six years or so, while it's unclear how Pauline looks at the situation since Robert has stayed away all these years, and the neglected Alexander who wants the wineries too.

By inheritance law all four will get the money and the profits from the land as dividends etc but the estate has to stay united, so only one of them can be the new manager or CEO if you like, and the dominant Jules and meek but resentful - and after all legitimate son - Alexander  are the two candidates. Alexander's "homey" wife, Dominique, currently keeps the Laverzac mansion, while Dominique's sister, Laurene now 20, is Jules's natural match assuming the old man allows it as he kinda has a shine to Laurene and almost had an affair with her when Laurene barely of age, started working as his personal secretary for some reasons you will find out, despite her and Dominique being only daughters and heirs of another important wine maker from around, so despite Jules being Aurelien's favorite son, he doesn't want to let go of Laurene....

Throw in the mysterious mother of Jules from 30 years ago, a glamorous lawyer, a secretary who wants to advance, the estate housekeeper/right hand man couple who know all the secrets and some others - not omitting the kids and babies - and you get a truly memorable cast and a great novel to enjoy.

"A Bordeaux Dynasty" has everything you want in such: secrets, betrayals, a few femme fatales and a few irresistible men, illegitimate babies, intrigue and jealousy, rivalry between wine families etc... I really loved the writing and characters as the book has great intensity and makes one turn the pages to see what's next. I also really liked that it is a standalone ending at a great point.

Set in an undetermined present - maybe 1990's or so - and with flashbacks at the events 30 years ago, the tale moves fast and irresistibly and if you like such, I highly recommend
"A Bordeaux Dynasty"  for a memorable reading experience.


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