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The Vineyard: A Novel [Hardcover]

Barbara Delinsky
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 6 2000
In The "Vineyard, New York Times" bestselling author Barbara Delinsky "(Lake News, Coast Road, Three Wishes)" has written her most complex and emotionally rewarding novel: a story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other's.

To her family, Natalie Seebring is a woman who prizes appearances. She is exquisitely mannered, socially adept, a supportive wife, and head of a successful wine-producing enterprise. So when she announces plans to marry a vineyard employee mere months after the death of her husband of fifty-eight years, her son and daughter are stunned. Faced with their disapproval, Natalie decides to write a memoir. There is much that her children don't know about her life -- about her love of the vineyard, her role in fighting to build it up, and the sacrifices she made for her family.

Olivia Jones is a dreamer, living vicariously through the old photographs she restores. She and her daughter, Tess, have no one but themselves, so they cling to the fantasy that a big, happy family is out there somewhere, just waiting to welcome them home. When Olivia is hired by Natalie to help with her memoir, a summer at Natalie's beautiful vineyard by the sea seems the perfect opportunity to live out that fantasy -- an elegant home by the shore, a salary that allows her to hire a tutor for her dyslexic daughter, a job that is creative, hours spent with a woman who has led a charmed life.

But all is not as it seems, Olivia and Tess discover when they arrive at Asquonset, the vineyard in Rhode Island. While welcoming, Natalie is not quite the mothering type, as is quickly evident in the hostility her daughter and son have toward her -- it'sa hostility that Olivia must buffer. Another dose of stark reality comes in the form of Simon Burke, who runs the vineyard's day-to-day operation and sees in Olivia and Tess an unwelcome reminder of the wife and daughter he tragically lost. And then there is the cruel reality of Olivia's own life -- the mother who never wanted her, and a career that has floundered.

Natalie's story, intended for her own children, enlightens Olivia as well. The lives of these two women of different generations, parallel in so many ways, become, in "The Vineyard," a powerful and moving story as the fantasy of an idealized life, complete with perfect romance, crashes headlong into reality.


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From Amazon

Like a glass of good pinot noir, Barbara Delinsky's The Vineyard is best enjoyed slowly. The Vineyard follows the triumphs and tragedies of the Seebrings, a wealthy family of vintners in Rhode Island. The story begins when recently widowed, 76-year-old Natalie Seebring announces her scandalous engagement to none other than the vineyard manager, Carl, whose social standing is, needless to say, several notches beneath the Seebrings'. Natalie's children, Susanne and Greg, are furious with their mother for marrying the help, and only six months after their father's death.

Besides her remarriage, Natalie is working on a family history project, one she hopes will explain all the love and loss she has endured before reaching happiness at long last. She recruits Olivia Jones to help with the project, and Olivia and her daughter Tess move out to the vineyard for the summer. Tension builds with the summer heat as the wedding approaches. To make matters worse, Carl's son Simon, the new vineyard manager, is coldly resentful of Olivia and Tess, who remind him of the wife and daughter he has lost. But amidst all this, Natalie Seebring's long-buried past is slowly revealed, and like a summer storm, the truth blows through the vineyard, leaving everything different in its wake.

Barbara Delinsky says she was influenced by Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation in writing The Vineyard, and Natalie Seebring is a fine tribute to the strong, silent Americans who made so many sacrifices during World War II. Keep a hankie close by when reading this one. Family tragedy, unlikely romance, and old wrongs finally made right will have you laughing and crying. --Francine McBride

From Publishers Weekly

Wine makers call its meritage: the commingling of several varietal wines into a product that can be marketed as a brand name, year after year. With this novel, the latest of 60-plus, veteran writer Delinsky has once again done exactly that, producing a fan-pleasing blend. At 35, Olivia Jones is a restorer of old photographs, and the mother, via a brief relationship, of a dyslexic, unhappy and bratty 10-year-old named Tess. Herself the daughter of a single mother who checked out as soon as Olivia turned 18, Olivia fantasizes about being related to Natalie Seebring, a client who is the strong-willed and manipulative matriarch of a dysfunctional family of Rhode Island wine makers. When Natalie offers to hire Olivia to be her memoirist and "personal buffer" for a summer, she jumps at the chance. Soon she is embroiled in the turmoil caused when septuagenarian widow Natalie decides to marry former vineyard manager Carl Burke. Natalie's middle-aged children object loudly, and several family employees resign in protest. Meanwhile, Olivia is attracted to Carl's son (and successor as vineyard manager), Simon, who has become a solitary workaholic since the death of his entire family four years earlier in a sailing accident. The only suspense in the slow-moving plot comes at the end, when a hurricane threatens the wine crop, coinciding with the emotional storms produced by Natalie's easily anticipated revelations about her early life; the style is undistinguished, replete with clich?s and italics. Readers who prefer full-bodied novels are likely to find this story bland, thin and cloying. Those fond of literary Beaujolais nouveau, however, to be gulped down on a summer's day without critique, will enjoy this practiced blend of pop psychology, wine-making lore, learning-disability theory and sensuality. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ON WHAT HAD BEGUN as just another June day in Manhattan, Susanne Seebring Malloy returned to her Upper East Side brownstone after lunch with friends to find a saffron yellow envelop in the mail. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Real and Gritty Dec 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really like Barbara Delinsky's style of writing. You feel as if you are an actual part of the story rather than "remote viewing" as is the case in nearly every other romance fiction writer.
Nor is there any sordid, soft porn sex scenes to tittilate voyeuristic lust. She builds her love scenes as a gradual, gentle and deeply insightful awakening. She reveals romance in an elegant, classy and very tasteful manner that engages the reader in the reality of the eventual mating without grossing out the reader with the vulgarity found in Stephanie Laurens or even Nora Roberts show-all-tell-all graphic manner that forces some readers to skip those "steamy" pages. Delinsky's books are like opening a box of treasures and never being disappointed or repelled by the contents.
Delinsky also has a wonderful sense of philosophy about family relationships and the manner in which to build strong ones despite setbacks and condemnation by said family or friends. In this book she examines the greatly flawed assumptions that middle aged children dump on their elderly 76 year old mother when she elects to marry her vineyard manager and childhood lover after the death of her husband and father of the kids.
Also this fascinating story is about the labor intensive work of farming a vineyard and the whole issue of sacrifices made by a very strong woman for her entire life to ensure a long term goal of security which makes this story very empowering to women.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time! Aug. 27 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I feel a little disloyal in saying I actually like this book better than Lake News - another Delinsky favorite of mine. This book is wonderfully-well developed - a great storyline, great characters, great dialog ... what more do we need?!?
I loved Olivia - quirky, but also strong, determined and a fierce protector of her daughter. I loved Simon - intelligent, hard-working and dealing with his tragedies in the only way he knows how. I also loved the other main female character, Natalie, who at 76 is more than eager to begin the next chapter of her own life.
The aspect I like best of the Delinsky novels I have read is the reality of them. She writes in such a style that I, the reader, am a part of the books. I really get to know the characters; I can imagine myself in the settings, i.e., walking among the rows of grapevines, or sitting at the 4th of July picnic. I know just how Tess looks with her thick glasses on - smudged & halfway down her nose; I know just how Olivia's heart jumps as she starts to fall in love.
The other thing I really like about Barbara Delinsky is that she doesn't rely on the "power of the author" to just make things happen. Her characters grow and learn on their own; happy endings don't "just happen," they come about through the efforts of her characters. I get so tired of contrived, trite plots & heros & heroines who, after 300 pages of missing each other and misunderstanding each other and lost opportunities and other loves, finally in the last 20 pages find everlasting love & passion.
You won't get that in The Vineyard ... what you get are wonderful, realistic people who (just like us) have something to offer to each other and, in so doing, make the world a little better place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT People-Book April 3 2003
Format:Hardcover
Asquonset Vineyard, Rhode Island. Six months after the death of her husband of 58 years, Natalie Seebring announces her intentions to marry Carl Burke, a man she's known since childhood, a man who's been her vineyard manager for the past 35 years. Naturally, Natalie's grown children, Susanne and Greg, are shocked and disturbed by the sudden news. Natalie decides to hire someone for the summer to help write her memoirs in time for her Labor Day wedding. She hopes her story will explain to her children what she's been through in her 76 years and what she's feeling now.
At 35, Olivia Jones is a single mother working hard to provide for her 10-year-old daughter Tess. Olivia knows art and photography. She's been doing photo restoration for Natalie Seebring for months, although they've never met. Through her work, Olivia has grown very attached to the Seebring family. She can only imagine what each family member is like and imagines herself as a Seebring herself. She jumps at the job offer to work at the vineyard for the summer. The pay will be more than enough to hire tutors to help Tess with her dyslexia.
With Olivia at her side, pen in hand, Natalie's story of love, heartache, struggle and perseverance slowly unfolds, revealing a few secrets along the way.
Meanwhile, Olivia is searching for her own mother as well as dealing with Carl's son, Simon, now the vineyard manager. Simon lost his wife and daughter 4 years ago in a sailing accident and having Olivia around with young Tess only stirs up the pain he's worked so hard to bury.
This is truly a story so well told that you laugh at times and cry at others. There's so much detail on a variety of topics. The reader learns a bit about growing grapes, sailing, hurricanes, the Great Depression and World War II. Each character is so well-written, I feel that if I were ever in Rhode Island, I could simply drive up and pay the Seebrings a visit. Great people book.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
A realistic view of family, the end was a bit rushed though, Barbara Delinsky is one of my favourite authors and she didnt disappoint with the vineyard/
Published 8 months ago by Tracey Seitz
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read
I always enjoy Barbara Delinsky. This is a rich book full of beautiful images. She has such a wonderful writing style that really enables me to get into the characters and... Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2006 by LIL' OLE COWGIRL FROM TEXAS
3.0 out of 5 stars Harlequin Delinsky
Please understand; this woman can write. But good writing can never overcome bad plot. Even Shakespeare couldn't pull that off! Read more
Published on July 23 2003 by Duncmac2
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I can't think of one thing to change about this book. It was so good, vintage Delinsky. I have read half a dozen books by her and she never disappoints.
Published on April 20 2003 by bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read Anytime
This novel is a great light read. The story flows, the characters come alive, and the setting is magnificently described. Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2002 by Patty Philbrook
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book
I loved this book about family and other relationships. They can be difficult at times. Barbara Delinsky is one of my favorite writers.
Published on July 28 2002 by "wildwoodldy"
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and Easy Summer Read
If you looking for a relaxing and interesting story line about real people, this is it. Enjoyed every page.
Published on June 23 2002 by "kelly333"
5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved This Book!
I usually read mysteries and suspense so this one was a step out of familiar territory . . . and I loved it. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2002 by Debbie Lockledge
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper!
I loved this book. I have read 16 Delinsky's in this one is in my top 3. I had to go find a hard cover edition for my personal library. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2001 by mzglorybe
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting multigenerational tale
Heard the taped version of THE VINEYARD by Barbara
Delinsky, a romance novel of a woman who shocks her family
when she announces plans to marry a vineyard employee... Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2001 by Blaine Greenfield
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