I received a copy of A Bordeaux Dynasty to review from the publisher. The author, Francoise Bourdin, is apparently a best-seller in France, and this is an English translation.
I found that her work has been very popular in France for a long time and has had several works adapted for television. She also has a beautiful home, and I basically want to be her when I grow up. Here's a short video introduction (French with subtitles):
Bourdin loves to write about family secrets, and A Bordeaux Dynasty is certainly full of those. This family consists of a successful winemaker and his four sons, the last one adopted under mysterious circumstances. The man just brought the boy home one day with no explanation and raised him ever after as his own son. At the time of the novel, this young man is now thirty and the obvious heir to the significant estate, because of talent and because of the deep affection his father has for him. He also has amazing hair and everyone wrapped around his little finger....except perhaps the woman he wants the most. Mon Dieu! I am getting the vapors.
The men of the family often compete with each other for women, and the web of attractions, affairs and tense romantic histories quickly becomes tangled together and weighs over the grand, austere castle of the estate like the smoke of the many French cigarettes that are smoked throughout. The cast of characters is rounded out by the women in their lives, a few estate employees, and the neighboring winemakers and their families. Take Downton Abbey, set it in contemporary France, add a lot of sexual intrigue and winemaking specifics, and you have A Bordeaux Dynasty.
I found A Bordeaux Dynasty very entertaining, and could very much imagine it being made into a film or a TV miniseries. I go back and forth in my reading from highbrow literary fiction and nonfiction to well-written entertainment, and this definitely falls in the latter category. It's definitely not high art, and there are some eye-rolling moments, as when one of the brothers breaks a pitchfork over his knee in anger after a (literal) roll in the hay goes horribly awry. Sometimes it comes close to pulp romantic fiction, as when the youngest brother is gratuitously described as shirtless in a scene where shirtlessness is not relevant, or when another brother comes along a woman sunbathing topless and starts running his hands all over her body right out in the open.
However, the writing in A Bordeaux Dynasty is overall sharp enough and the storyline interesting enough to bring the quality up a few levels from pulp fiction and keep this reader engaged. I would recommend this novel to anyone who feels like curling up next to the fireplace to unwind with a fun read.... and a glass of Bordeaux, perhaps?
I was given this book to review by the publisher.
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