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on 14 January 2006
I bought this book because I had seen it in France magazine having already read some similar books on moving to france before.
I found the book and Patricia's writing to be very infectious sometimes sad but also happy and certainly reflective of life.
I read this book in about 4 days being unable to put it down once started it certainly is a fabulous read for a winter evening accompanied by a bottle of red wine.
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2007
I first came across this lady in the Channel 4 series "A French Affair" in 1994, it being the story of 4 families who relocated to the Dordogne, and was struck dumb with admiration even back then. Just the sheer damned hard work she put in to pull through from horrendous problems to success was quite mind-boggling! I was delighted to spot her book, a few years later, and marvelled anew at her courage and persistance.

To the reviewers who didn't like all the technical stuff about wine - possibly the title should have warned them off! To the ones who said it was yet another book about Brits going to France and living the dream - well, once again, the subject matter is pretty obvious, and if you don't like that kind of thing, then don't read it!! I love all those books, and this is a particularly interesting example, because it goes beyond funny stories about French builders and "fabulous meals wot I have ate".

I think that she writes rather movingly about her marriage. I too felt that she probably could have said a lot more, but was too dignified to wash her dirty linen in public, or to rubbish her husband - who, after all, was only forced to abandon his dream through chronic ill-health. The loss of two very close friends - one horrifically young - is also very touchingly portrayed, so I don't understand at all the accusations of sterility and lack of feeling. The only thing I found slightly irritating was the writing of everything in the present tense, but this did not ulitmately spoil my enjoyment of the book.
I haven't tried the wine, but even it's awful I don't see that that can detract from the quality of the book!!!
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on 10 February 2012
'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 wines. The story is beautifully written and reads more like a novel than an autobiography.
Patricia moves from England to the wine producing region of Bergerac knowing little French and even less about viticulture. Her amusing tales take you on an adventure. It starts like an episode of 'Grand Designs' where Patricia and her husband after buying a near ruin have to over come the language barrier to work with the French builders to make their new home inhabitable. The book then turns to the vineyards and the backbreaking first vendange. Patricia's honest account of her uphill struggle to learn (in French!) about everything from driving the tractor, cultivating the grapes and producing the wine is excellent reading and an accessible way for the reader to learn about wine. The book tells of her journey from her disastrous first harvest, when some of her wine turned to vinegar, to her triumph in a male dominated profession, where her wines won numerous awards and her vineyard went from strength to strength.
The story is very personal and moving, it tells of her highs and lows making you laugh and even cry. You get to know the people, history and culture of the little village of Gageac and also get to closely know her family and read about her escape prone adventurous dogs Sam and Luke.
A fantastic read!
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on 12 October 2009
This is the story of one woman and her vineyard. Patricia Atkinson bought a vineyard in the Dordogne with her husband and moved there in 1990. Soon much of the first year's wine had turned to vinegar and her husband had returned to England because of poor health. Patricia was left to manage the vineyard on her own. After several years of hard slog Patricia was producing wine that was winning prizes.

This is a tale of unlikely success in the face of adversity. But much more than that it is a story of humanity and community told with warmth and disarming modesty. We are taken through the wine-making year with a telling eye for detail. We endure the back-breaking and finger-shredding work of pruning and tending the vines through the winter and spring. We participate in the sweat, toil and camaraderie of the "vendange" and engage in the arm-wrestling chess match against nature that passes as converting grape juice to wine.

This is a wonderful book: a cautionary, yet ultimately uplifting, tale for those who would give up a comfortable existence to stake their future on risky business (alone and overseas). A joy to read.
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on 18 August 2006
How I admire this woman! I have read the book several times now, rereading parts over and over again and would like to visit her vineyard, buy her wines, stay in one of her cottages, be with her, see how she is doing at this time of year. Once I will do it!

I advise this book to all lovers of French life.

She gives excellent background information on winemaking as well as on village life.Moreover she shows us her own life - not too much but enough to say "what a marvellous woman".

She is great as is her book.

My advice buy her book at once!(and enjoy it)

A retired language teacher with living abroad experience.
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on 25 November 2015
A gripping tale of how misfortunes mean that a woman has to turn herself into a true vineyard owner despite no previous experience and at first only a hazy knowledge of French. I have read this several times now and have realised that it not only conjures up a picture of life in a French village and gives an understanding of the expertise & effort involved in producing a bottle of wine, but is well structured and well written. The author is adept both at vivid description and at knowing what to leave out - the style is deceptively simple at times and all the more effective for this: it's much cleverer than at first appears. Enjoy it while drinking a glass of wine and be thankful all you had to do was buy the bottle!
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on 9 September 2014
I really admire the author's guts and determination with her endevours to make her new life successful. But the way the book is written in a very matter of fact way with short unemotional and matter of fact paragraphs covering important topics such as her marriage and the deaths of 2 friends,is very irritating. For me there was too much about the nitty gritty of wine making and not enough about her personal life. Her husband is mentioned less and less with no explanation as to what was going on and then the marriage ends with one small unsatisfactory paragraph at the end stating that they were separating. There is no mention either of any future love interest, surely she didn't stay single for the rest of her life.
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on 25 September 2007
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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on 29 June 2008
I agree with most of the above comments on this book. It certainly opened my eyes to the exhaustive process of wine making and French Beaurocracy! I certainly shall not quibble about the price of a good wine again!!!

Patricia is a complete inspiration and a very good writer.

I am so pleased to see (from her website) that she appears to be going from strength to strength.

She describes the people in this book so well that when there is a death, you feel it, and the news that one in particular died made me cry.

I shall certainly be buying her next book.
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on 1 June 2015
This book is a challenging and engaging account of how the author learned the highly specialised business of wine production,whilst not initially even being able to speak French.Her writing style is excellent,and engages the reader,despite so much of the book being descriptive of her highly specialised business.She has the ability to write movingly,without being overly sentimental,and I am left deeply impressed by the size of the task undertaken by this lady and her ability to commit her experiences to paper.
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