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The Vintner's Luck Paperback – 5 Aug 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (5 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312264100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312264109
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,433,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Elizabeth Knox's fifth book, her first to be published in the UK, plays out its huge themes in a small Burgundian village at the time of Napoleon. A novel of forbidden love, wine and immortality, it yields up its secrets--beautiful, tragic and horrifying--one by one, so they're as unexpected as the angel Sobran Jodeau, the young vintner, encounters in his vineyard one night in 1808. Xas is breathtakingly beautiful, has huge expressive white wings, leather trousers and smells softly of snow. He is a keen gardener, and also profoundly curious about mortals, how they feel, how they live, how they make their choices. They talk, and Xas persuades Jodeau to meet him--same time, same place--every year.

Jodeau marries, fathers children, and continues--bar a couple of years when he's off fighting, whoring and trying to keep his best friend alive on the Russian front--to meet with Xas. Their friendship deepens. Jodeau's wine improves, and the joys and troubles of village life wash around him. But this strange relationship between man and angel is inherently unstable, and following the death of Jodeau's beloved younger daughter, it veers off in a direction neither had anticipated. And then Xas tells Jodeau something that drives the vintner almost beyond madness. --Lisa Gee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Original, often astonishingly vivid...Xas is one of the best angels since William Blake's."--Nina Auerbach, "The New York Times Book Review"

"Daringly exploring the spiritual worth of sesnual pleasure, New Zealand writer Knox's imaginative, imagistic tale soars."--"Entertainment Weekly"

"Rich prose and an original plot...a delightful, thought-provoking read."--Robin Vidimos, "The Denver Post"

"Strangely compelling...multilayered and challanging...[The Vintner's Luck] is not your typical angel story."--David Tedhams, "The Washington Post Book World"

"Elizabeth Knox spreads her odd and original gossamer over many things....[Her] imagination resembles one of those Burgundy slopes, mysteriously sunned and fed, that produces a vintage unlike any other."--Richard Eder, "Los Angeles Times Book Review"


Original, often astonishingly vivid...Xas is one of the best angels since William Blake's. "Nina Auerbach, The New York Times Book Review"

Daringly exploring the spiritual worth of sesnual pleasure, New Zealand writer Knox's imaginative, imagistic tale soars. "Entertainment Weekly"

Rich prose and an original plot...a delightful, thought-provoking read. "Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post"

Strangely compelling...multilayered and challanging...[The Vintner's Luck] is not your typical angel story. "David Tedhams, The Washington Post Book World"

Elizabeth Knox spreads her odd and original gossamer over many things....[Her] imagination resembles one of those Burgundy slopes, mysteriously sunned and fed, that produces a vintage unlike any other. "Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review""

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
...This is an extraordinary story that is rendered totally believable by the writer's beautiful lyrical style and skill. I've tried to describe this book to friends and was met with blank stares or raised eyebrows, in the end I just give them the book to read for themselves. The human characters are far from perfect, sometimes they are thoroughly dislikable, however it is the angel's own failings which provide the central humanity of this novel. I found myself sucked into the seductive prose, and emerged feeling as though I understood the darker side of all of us. I found myself wondering throughout how the author came up with these ideas; however, the results are so bewitching all I can do is shake my head in admiration. This book is about love, about desire, about our own failings and our perhaps unrealistic expectations of those around us. Read it.
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Format: Paperback
What a wonderfully thought provoking and imaginative story. I have sent this book to many of my friends as I was compelled to keep it alive by talking about the story and characters with other people who had read it.
The two main characters are wonderful and I felt their passion, anger and sadness as if I were there.
My imagination created the most wonderful scenes through the writing of Elizabeth Knox.
I recommend it without hesitation.
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By A Customer on 1 July 1999
Format: Paperback
I read a lot of books, and this is the first book in ages which, once I had finished the final page, made me sit and think. The story is told in such a way you can picture events as they happen. The characters are portrayed in a way which makes you feel as though you know them. It makes you believe in something you may not have believed in before - God, angels, love. It might depress you. It may make you realise we're all mortal. It will be a book you read and remember, even if you don't necessarily enjoy it. And it is a book you will lend to all your friends because once you have read it you will want to discuss it. If you read one book this side of the millenium, let it be this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have but one word to describe this book: gorgeous.

Okay, okay, that's a fairly bold statement to make. But, The Vintner's Luck being as criminally unknown as it is, only readily available in its nation of origin (New Zealand), I feel I have to make a case for its beauty and sheer energy that kept me turning the pages.

Well, maybe not turning the pages as quickly as I could. I would read ten to twenty pages at a time and need some time to gather my feelings and think carefully upon what I had just read. If that makes any sense.

Now, some of you may be going: "Vanessa, how on Earth could you call this novel 'criminally unknown'? A film starring Gaspard Ulliel, the handsome Frenchman from Hannibal Rising, and Keisha Castle-Hughes from Whale Rider (and its same director) was released in 2009!" Well, the film was critically panned by everybody who saw its first screening at a Toronto film festival, and the author herself said the film missed the point of her novel so badly it made her cry. Certainly not an accolade to be proud of, in any case.

Read the book. It is probably a lot better than the movie - which I haven't gotten around to seeing yet.

The book covers so many more themes, and it really made me think on a spiritual level from time to time. I really loved how whenever Xas (the angel in the story) is around, the writing takes on a hushed, religious tone. Elizabeth Knox is also one of these rare authors who can seriously deliver literary punches to the gut. Characters die at the tip of a hat. Alliances are broken. Secrets are revealed. Each and every time this happened, I felt so horribly shaken up. Also, this is the first book I've read where I nearly let out a wail of pain in my workplace while reading a particular part of the story.
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Format: Paperback
I never write these reviews though I'm forever in debt to the people who do; so when I read this book I felt I had to finally praise a book that was better and greater than the average. I never cry over books maybe apart from Hardy's Jude The Obscure ( I think some people will relate to that:)) but I cried and ached throughout this book.

People complain about the murders sub-plot but for me they added a "The Perfume" taste I liked. I loved Xas though the last part of the book didn't stir me as much - it felt disconnected to the rest somehow.

Nevertheless, it will make you question God, Heaven, Hell, Devil, what is Good and Evil, what is love and if love is now too trivial and only supernatural characters like angels have in them the fierceness to love and lost without fearing to fall forever. It is that beautiful. Read it knowing you'll be puzzling about it for months.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book in a strange shop in Akaroa, New Zealand which sold everything from children's toys to fudge. I was keen to read a book by a Kiwi author and my sister suggested Elizabeth Knox. I had hoped to read a book set in New Zealand, but in fact The Vintner's Luck is set in the vineyards of 19th Century France.

I am really loathe to even mention this book in the same sentence as One Day, let alone compare the two as though they were equals but the basic premise is the same.
When he is 18, Sobran Jodeau gets drunk, and stumbles across an angel, from there Sobran and the angel Xas meet each year on one day, the 27th of June for many years.

When I initially attempted to read this book, carting it from motel to motel, I found it odd, and couldn't get into it. Though its chronological, the jump from June to June made it feel disjointed as though a natural progression was missing. However, I decided that in my ebook addiction I had left paperbacks I had bought unloved and unfinished and decided I should finish them before getting any more electronic books.

I'm glad I did, the initial oddness i felt faded the more I read it, and I came to feel passionately that this was a book of beauty, a gem with a lyrical, magical quality to it. It's uniqueness and originality in every respect seems to make it defy normal descriptions. The juxtaposition of the human and the divine, the elements that seem to be inspired by Paradise Lost. The warm believable love, the dark secrets and mysteries, the allusions to insanity and even to evil, make this book although couched in the reality of wine production seem like a fairytale for adults, and an extraordinary one that.
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