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The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne…
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The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who… (2008)

by Tilar J. Mazzeo

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The subject (the life of the widow Clicquot, famous Champagne entepreuneur) is interesting and the english quite easy to understand even for a non native speaker. In particular, the part regarding the hard times widow Clicquot faces during the Napoleonic Empire catches the reader attention and makes him genuinely wonder how she is going to resolve the situation.
Unkuckily there is one fatal flaw in this book: it is a matter of fact that not much has remained to the present to understand the private life and thoughts of this woman and most of the letters we have refer to the central years of her life.
The author tries to compensate for this lacking of material by “imagining” what a woman like Barbe-Nicole Clicquot could have felt and thought, basing her assumption on nothing. This way she ends writing a “docudrama”, a book which is nor fiction, neither an objective documentary. For this reason, especially in the first half, writing style can be very annoying: the author keeps reminding us that she doesn't know what her protagonist was thinking but nonetheless she wants to try guessing it. The words “perhaps”, “must” and “surely” keep coming again and again and again. "Perhaps Barbe-Nicole thought this" "Perhaps she thought that" "Surely she must have heard of X" "Surely she imagined that".
Terrible.

In the second part, thanks to a broader availability of original documents the rythm slightly improves, but many people will probably give up before reaching that point. ( )
  Tonari | May 19, 2013 |
There’s not a lot of personal detail in this biography of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the Widow Cliquot, who revolutionized the champagne business in the early 19th century. There are no letters or journals that survived, so there’s no way to know what she was thinking, and the author doesn’t fantasize or even guess, but sticks to the little information that exists.

The history of the times is exciting enough; it was a turbulent period in France. Beyond that, there’s a lot of information about the manufacture of champagne and about the champagne business. I think this would be of more interest to a person who is more interested in chemistry and economy – more than I am, anyway.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 24, 2013 |
I found this unreadable. The prose is so unbearably repetitive I bailed out after just one chapter. One chapter in, I decided to stop reading because there was so much repetition. The writing is redundant, and I only read one chapter. I think I would have liked it had Mazzeo trusted me enough to only tell me everything one time. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
A strong female character, a look at the consequences of the French Revolution outside the walls of Paris and a history of the ubiquitous celebratory bubbly – this great historical look at the Barbe-Nicole Clicquot was as informative as it was enjoyable.

Yes, I was a little late to the game of Tilar Mazzeo’s The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It (the paperback came out in 2009), I had heard about it, and even had a borrowed version sitting on my shelf for quite a while – so I aimed to finish it by New Year’s Eve 2012, which I did. I came into the book knowing very little about The Widow and her history so I really fell right into her story. Coming from a privileged background, she married but became a young widow. She had worked with her husband on their wine business, and with the rules of the time, as a widow in France, she could become a businesswoman in her own right – and she did. Barbe-Nicole’s story really does show her perseverance, the business was taken to the brink many times but through her hard work, ingenuity, grit and sometime just pure luck she made it through to create one of the most famous brands in the world.

Regardless of how long ago this book came out, it is a story that doesn’t grow old, and really is an inspiring lesson from a strong woman.

I also posted this review on my blog: www.BaileysandBooks.com ( )
  BaileysAndBooks | Jan 20, 2013 |
Good to read while drinking Christmas bubbly - lots of history, biography and wine making details (perhaps too much of this) ( )
  siri51 | Jan 8, 2013 |
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For Noelle and Roberta, more than ever
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Prologue: This is the story of French champagne, but it didn't start amid the splendor of a countryside chateau.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061288586, Paperback)

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2008: With its trademark fizz and sparkling taste, champagne has long been the beverage of choice for those in a celebratory mood. From the artillery of popping corks on New Year's Eve to the clinking of newlywed glasses, a bit of the bubbly has locked arms with good cheer for centuries. Yet had it not been for the pioneering Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the libation deemed "the wine of civilization" by Winston Churchill might today be available only to the excessively wealthy or extremely lucky. Author Tilar J. Mazzeo toasts the élan of Champagne's Grand Dame with The Widow Clicquot, a fascinating story of the cunning bravery and good fortune that helped build the Veuve Clicquot brand. Widowed at age twenty-seven by the death of her husband François Clicquot, Barbe-Nicole assumed control of her family’s wine business amid the chaos of The Napoleonic Wars. That she became a prominent female leader in a male-dominated industry was one thing; building an empire amid savage political unrest was quite another. With passionate research and true admiration for her subject, Mazzeo pays homage to the beloved Widow from Reims and the remarkable weight her name still carries today. -Dave Callanan

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Veuve Clicquot champagne epitomizes glamour, style, and luxury. But who was this young widow--the Veuve Clicquot--whose champagne sparkled at the courts of France, Britain, and Russia, and how did she rise to celebrity and fortune? Cultural historian Mazzeo brings to life the woman behind the iconic yellow label: Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin. A young witness to the French Revolution and a new widow during the chaotic years of the Napoleonic Wars, Barbe-Nicole defied convention by assuming--after her husband's death--the reins of the fledgling wine business they had nurtured, and became one of the world's first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time. This book provides a glimpse into the life of a daring and determined entrepreneur, a bold risk taker, and an audacious and intelligent woman who took control of her own destiny when fate left her on the brink of financial ruin.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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