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The Vineyard by Barbara Delinsky
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The Vineyard

by Barbara Delinsky

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The Vineyard by Michael Hurley is a highly recommended novel about friendship and overcoming difficult circumstances.

Three friends in their early 30's gather at Martha's Vineyard for a summer of reconnections but it ultimately becomes a time of healing and reawakening - with some added mysticism and allegorical tie-ins. Dory, Charlotte, and Turner all reunite on Dory's family residents on Martha's Vineyard. For Dory it is a time to keep trying to escape the expectations placed upon her based on her heritage and wealth. Charlotte has accepted her invitation because she is planning to commit suicide as soon as she arrives. Turner is simply at loose ends in her life and has no direction, beyond continuing her blog.

All three women have encounters with the fisherman. "His name was Enoch, which didn’t much matter, because almost no one knew his name or referred to him as anything other than “the fisherman.” In the turn of events, he changes the lives of all three women.

The Vineyard opens with Charlotte planning to wade out into the ocean with her daughter Meredith's ashes immediately after she arrives. "Only the sea was far and wide enough to cover the grief of losing a daughter, a marriage, and a life that once had seemed to rise continually skyward, like a zephyr." She is still mourning the loss of her daughter and lamenting the refusal of the church to bury Meredith because she died unbaptized. Charlotte has the numbers 1183-2 tattooed on her left forearm as a self-imposed badge of shame. "They comprised the paragraph and section number of a single line of the Code of Canon Laws of the Catholic Church: The local ordinary can permit children whom the parents intended to baptize but who died before baptism to be given ecclesiastical funerals." She buys shrimp from the fisherman, and he later touches her life in an unexpected way.

Dory is a larger than life character who does nothing in half measures. It was all or nothing at all—with everything. The expectations her family's name seem to require of her has placed a restraint on her life from which that she wants to rebel. Her encounter with the fisherman is miraculous and alters her life.

Turner is a skeptic and negative about any help from a fisherman. She does know a good story hook when she sees one, however, so she blogs about the miraculous doings of the fisherman, freely making her posts allegorical as well as exaggerated. Her blog posts go viral and her hit numbers are unprecedented. Suddenly people all over want to know more. "The world was eager and the market was ripe for a new theology of redemption, and Turner’s stories about a strange fisherman on the Vineyard conveniently filled that void." People are all clamoring for a copy of what they think is Turner's soon to be published The Book of Enoch.

After enjoying Hurley's The Prodigal last year, I was pleased to read The Vineyard. The writing is still excellent and the narrative encompasses many of the same features: personal challenges, Catholicism, allegorical tie-ins, and sailing. This time there is a whole lot of sex, however, and not of the romantic variety or even with any care (emotional or practical). It's either a sexual predator, someone using their sexuality for their own purposes, or raw lust. So, although the quality of the writing is just as good and descriptive, the actual story lost some of the momentum for me because the female characters just seemed off and rather mindless during those scenes. I enjoyed the novel enough to keep reading, though the ending, while it ties up all the storylines, was a bit too pat and sort of fizzled out for me.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of the author for review purposes.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
The Vineyard by Barbara Delinsky
I had read this book before but never reviewed it. What I like is learning new things: about the vineyard and there is a bit of romance and travel which adds up to a really good book for me.
This is set in my back yard so it really makes sense to me. This is a story of a woman who's lost her husband-she runs a vineyard and has workers that do the main work. The grown children don't live nearby but she's sent them a note that she's getting married with the invitation.
During the summer she plans to write her memoirs. She's hired a woman with a disabled child to help with that task. Love learning about the photographer, restoration work, grapes and vineyard, weather that effects their potential success and the n'easters and hurricanes.
Love the different angles of the relationships, the pressures each of them are up against-not due to just the wedding but their lives. This book covers all this and much more. ( )
  jbarr5 | Dec 18, 2013 |
I couldn't get involved with this at all. At times the narrative was quite gripping, but the whole story seemed rather disjointed. It didn't flow easily. ( )
  gogglemiss | Mar 9, 2009 |
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Book description
A story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other's.
To her family, Natalie Seebring is a woman who prizes appearances: exquisitely mannered, a supportive wife, and head of a successful wine-producing enterprise. So when she announces plans to marry a vineyard employee mere months after the death of her husband of fifty-eight years, her son and daughter are stunned. Faced with their disapproval, Natalie decides to write a memoir.

Olivia Jones is a dreamer, living vicariously through the old photographs she restores. She and her daughter, Tess, cling to the fantasy that a big, happy family is out there just waiting for them. When Natalie hires Olivia to help with her memoir, a summer at Natalie's vineyard by the sea seems the perfect opportunity to live out that fantasy. But all is not as it seems.

As the illusion of an idyllic existence comes crashing headlong into reality, the lives of these two women, parallel in so many ways, become a powerful and moving story.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671036505, Mass Market Paperback)

Like a glass of good pinot noir, Barbara Delinsky's The Vineyard is best enjoyed slowly. The Vineyard follows the triumphs and tragedies of the Seebrings, a wealthy family of vintners in Rhode Island. The story begins when recently widowed, 76-year-old Natalie Seebring announces her scandalous engagement to none other than the vineyard manager, Carl, whose social standing is, needless to say, several notches beneath the Seebrings'. Natalie's children, Susanne and Greg, are furious with their mother for marrying the help, and only six months after their father's death.

Besides her remarriage, Natalie is working on a family history project, one she hopes will explain all the love and loss she has endured before reaching happiness at long last. She recruits Olivia Jones to help with the project, and Olivia and her daughter Tess move out to the vineyard for the summer. Tension builds with the summer heat as the wedding approaches. To make matters worse, Carl's son Simon, the new vineyard manager, is coldly resentful of Olivia and Tess, who remind him of the wife and daughter he has lost. But amidst all this, Natalie Seebring's long-buried past is slowly revealed, and like a summer storm, the truth blows through the vineyard, leaving everything different in its wake.

Barbara Delinsky says she was influenced by Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation in writing The Vineyard, and Natalie Seebring is a fine tribute to the strong, silent Americans who made so many sacrifices during World War II. Keep a hankie close by when reading this one. Family tragedy, unlikely romance, and old wrongs finally made right will have you laughing and crying. --Francine McBride

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:07 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Natalie Seebring, aging and recently widowed, forms a bond with Olivia Jones, a writer and single mother who has been invited to spend the summer at Seebring's vineyard to help her write her memoirs.

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