French Vineyards…

“a wonderful book, full of information and enchantment”

– Heimburger’s European Traveller

“a vicarious travel adventure”

– Jancis Robinson OBE, Master of Wine

“enticing and indispensable”

– Jonathan Ray, wines editor, Daily Telegraph

“highly recommended”

– Tom Canavan, BBC TV Scotland and editor of

“recommendations from all the French wine regions”

– Jim Budd, independent wine journalist and chairman of The Circle of Wine Writers

Broke the Grape’s Joy…

I wasn’t sure…whether this book was romance, mystery, murder or supernatural. As it turns out all four categories are ticked by this charming, well written book from an expert on France and Saint-Emilion. This is a book I wanted to finish and yet was enjoying the journey so much that I forced myself to ration the chapters to make it last longer. This is Pat Hilyer’s first novel, following his book on travel in the French wine regions. I just hope this is the first of many such books from this very talented writer with a mastery of bitter-sweet tales.”

– Peter F May, wine editor, BellaOnLine

Patrick had his first writing break back on wine-pages in 2006, and though he has published a  book on wine tourism in France since, this is a departure: a wine-, or at least, vineyard-based, mystery novel. When I first read that I feared it could be a misguided or clichéd  attempt at forcing the wine theme into a poorly executed story, but far from it: Patrick has crafted a real page turner of a story full of teasing clues and cliff-hanging suspense as the book’s central character – a middle-aged English widow – struggles with her St Emilion wine estate whilst various characters drift in and out of her life – not all of whom are quite what they at first seem to be. The minutiae of vine growing  and winemaking is sprinkled throughout, but it fits so naturally into the story that it is both absorbing and believable. That’s because it is just one more detail that is beautifully crafted: Patick’s assured  painting of people, places and events is at the core of this novel’s success. It is very deftly handled, and whilst just occasionally a line of dialogue did’t quite ring true (I wondered if this is a consequence of a man writing in the first  person as a woman?), that really is a minor quibble. Broke the Grape’s Joy is a triumph of a little book, immensely readable and with the added interest of its  back-story for the wine buff. Highly recommended.

– Tom Cannavan, editor, Wine Pages