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The Ripening Sun: One Woman and the Creation of a Vineyard [Paperback]

Patricia Atkinson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Jun 2004
For most people giving up the day job and moving to a beautiful area of France and living off the vines is an impossible but delicious dream. In 1990, Patricia Atkinson and her husband decided to sell up in Britain and emigrate to the Dordogne. Their idea was to buy a house with a few vines attached and employ someone to tend to the wine while they earned their living with some financial consultancy work. There followed a series of disasters: the stock market crashed leaving their small holding as their sole source of income; the first red wine harvest turned to vinegar; and Patricia's husband returned to Britain, unable to cope with the stress. He never returned. Patricia Atkinson, whose only knowledge of wine up to that moment was 'that it came from a bottle' and who had not a word of French, was left to salvage their life savings form the vineyards. What follows is a remarkable story of struggle and transformation whereby her tiny 4 hectare plot has become a major estate of 21 hectares, where her Clos d'Yvigne wines have won awards and been adopted by wine merchants throughout the world and where she has been hailed as a superstar by UK wine writers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (3 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099443163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099443162
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"[an] eloquent tale" (Citylife)

"Remarkable . . . an extraordinarily affecting read" (Carla McKay Daily Mail)

"Enthralling . . . you end up admiring this plucky, warm-hearted woman and lusting to sample her vinous output" (Christopher Hirst The Independent)

"Should be required reading for anyone enjoying the vineyard dream...an impressive human story" (Spectator)

"Amazing and amusing . . . unputdownable" (The Lady)

Book Description

The Ripening Sun plugs directly into the fascination for books by inspirational women who have dared to live their dream, such as Extra Virgin and The Olive Farm. An inspiring autobiography, set in romantic France, to be enjoyed by fans of wine and success stories worldwide.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stands out from the crowd 28 Sep 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"One woman and the creation of a vineyard". Oh no, not another book about Brits moving to France to live their dream! But this one really does stand out from the crowd -- unlike the mediocre Virgile's Vineyard, this book is definitely worth reading.
Curiously, I remember seeing Patricia Atkinson in a programme on Channel 4 in about 1993 -- one of the first programmes of that type. She and her husband had moved to Bergerac to live in a beautiful old house and grow vines. But within months the husband contracted a debilitating illness and returned to the UK, leaving Patricia on her own, struggling to cultivate four hectares of vines with no knowledge of French, wine, or how to drive a tractor. She survived, and funnily enough she reappeared on a programme on French television a few months back -- now a respected winemaker who regularly wins prizes and gets her wines into the Guide Hachette.
Not only does she make good wine, she turns out to write quite well too -- recording her fears and insecurities as she struggles along on her own. The winemaking idea had been entirely her husband's, but she is obviously someone who believes that if she has to do something she will do it well, and she discovers talents that might never have been revealed otherwise -- not only learning the numerous skills required to grow grapes and make wine, but developing the physical strength needed to drive tractors, shovel grape debris, prune vines, and heave pipes, pumps and barrels about in the winery. And as if that weren't enough, she turns out to have a remarkably well-developed palate, to the extent that after a few years she is invited to join the official tasting committee for Bergerac AOC wines.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Stories 29 July 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I agree with one of the other readers - I could not put this book down but at the same time didn't want it to end. It is much better than other books in this same genre which tend to be a bit glib for my taste. The author shares a lot of real life stories with us and not just the pretty "up" ones. I felt like I knew the people she was writing about and was really heartbroken when one in particular died. And for her to become a vigneronne without any previous experience is amazing, I was in awe of what she has accomplished. I love this book!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational account of life in a vineyard. 22 April 2003
By Phil L
Format:Hardcover
A must for 'dreamers'- A fascinating and inspiring look at how the author followed a dream, despite setbacks and hard work to achieve the success of a now well renowned wine and vineyard. A well written account of the life in a french vineyard, french village society and coping with the day to day language issues. A great story explained in a most inspiring yet simple fashion.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one word 10 July 2004
Format:Paperback
...inspirational.
a truly remarkable story from a truly remarkable lady. a bit of peter mayle here, a bit of tour de france there, lashings of fresh air, wine, and great company; who could ask for more? read in one day...tres magnifique!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly excellent book! 20 April 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is one of those books that you don't want to finish, but can't put down. Even more so if you've ever dreamt of moving to France and retiring to a gentle life of making wine.
Not that you would after reading this book! Never before have I read such a compelling account of the absolute hard grinding work required of a vigneron. Patricia Atkinson starts making wine almost by accident, and suddenly the reader's thrust into a maelstrom of wayward tractors (and their numerous bewildering attachments), chaos in the winery, pips, pulp, stalks, skins and incomprehensible French beaurocracy.
There's a warm heart at the middle of a story which paints a complex picture of life, love, death and hard work in what might have been glibly described as a rural idyll but instead is richly coloured and multi-faceted. All the ups and downs, the triumphs and disasters are told with great honesty and modesty - it would surely have been easier to write an idealised version with the author as the all-conquering heroine.
All in all the best book by a Brit living life in rural France I've read - for me easily outclassing Peter Mayle's landmark A Year In Provence. Atkinson's 12 years in Gegeac will be hard to beat!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique 14 May 2003
Format:Hardcover
A fascinating book - I read it in a day. The best thing about it is its warts 'n all approach. Yes, there are plenty of passages eulogising about 'la belle vie francaise'. But these are balanced with the reality of wine-making being hard, hard work, plus of course the personal troubles she encountered. You finish the book thinking 'Great on you, girl'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it, but lacked depth 25 Sep 2007
Format:Paperback
I live in France and I bought this book to see how this person's experience differed from my own. I enjoyed the book and agree that the woman is an inspiration to all in taking on a challenge and excelling at something new, but I did find several things about the book spoiled my overall enjoyment.

I found that there were too many descriptions of moving wine around vats with confusing connecting pipes! I found the descriptions of the complexities of wine making overall interesting - I had not realised it was so complicated - but there was a lot of repetition of these descriptions.

I found that there was a lack of depth in how she dealt with the emotional side of the breakdown of her marriage. Perhaps it was too difficult to write about, or she felt a certain moral obligation to her husband to be discreet. I actually feel that at the start of her second book she is more open about her feelings regarding the separation. At one point I actually realised that she had not mentioned the husband for pages and pages and then there is one short paragraph to say that they were getting divorced.

The final issue I have is in the number of people who are casually mentioned in the book with no real description or introduction. Perhaps it's me - but at times I was confused as to who was who!

I would recommend the book to see a personal account of the complexities and hard work involved in wine making, and to observe a picture of French life that is quite enviable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this brilliant book so much
Enjoyed this brilliant book so much, that I am feeling bereft since I finished it. Will certainly read any others from this author.
Published 2 days ago by Great boy Benson
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much left unsaid
I really admire the author's guts and determination with her endevours to make her new life successful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by sos
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of courage, wine-making, wine-tasting and a supportive French...
I loved this book so much I bought it for friends too.

A brave woman takes on the huge challenge of setting up a vineyard on her own in a strange country. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jo King
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written - a joy to read
I so so enjoyed this. The author's writing is elegant and beautifully crafted. It made me want to read more about her time in France. Read more
Published 9 months ago by S Winspur
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves France and wine. It opened my eyes to the hard work involved in making wine and am now amazed that it can... Read more
Published 14 months ago by J kay
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for perspective vine yard owners.
Well written easy to read factual book. It is a must read if you are thinking of going into commercial wine making. It is also an attractive story which keeps you reading on. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Crimas
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and inspiring
This book has been a joy to read. Ms Atkinson portrays the many intricacies and delicacies inherent to French life, and ensures the reader is swept along in the narrative... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr Jacob W E Swain
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
I have read this before years ago and loved it. Loved it this time too. Some sad bits but some great bits too
Published 20 months ago by jack
4.0 out of 5 stars Running a vineyard
If you are wondering about buying a vineyard abroad then this will be of great interst. although in France I found it very interesting as we about to buy one in Italy and it gave a... Read more
Published on 13 May 2012 by court
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!
'The Ripening Sun' by Patricia Atkinson tells the story of how one woman, Patricia, who knew nothing about wine production, bought a vineyard in France and started to make her own... Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2012 by Ben_H
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