The Vintner’s Luck – Elizabeth Knox

vintners-luckREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Nadine

The unorthodox story of a French winemaker and his homosexual love affair with an angel. 

❚ “One summer night in 1808, Sobran Jodeau sets out to drown his love sorrows in his family’s vineyard when he stumbles upon an angel. Once he gets over his shock, Sobran decides that Xas, the male angel, is his guardian sent to counsel him on everything from marriage to wine production.

“But Xas turns out to be far more to Sobran. The Vintner’s Luck explores an unexpected love story as Sobran starts a sexual relationship with the angel and falls in love with him.

“The story falls somewhere between fantasy and allegory and despite its unorthodox nature elicits a high level of acceptance in the reader. Perhaps it is the inclusion of details on winemaking, wars, progress, passion and death in the small Burgundy village, as well as Jodeau’s midsummer trysts. Perhaps its the ideal cast of characters who have been structured incredibly well to be appealing and believable.”

Every day time stopped and Sobran saw Xas, the sun reflecting off his raised wings, white chest watermarked by tears dried in fine dust; bare skin and colourless nipples, as innocent as a child’s; the double signature, seagreen and vermilion, awake and vivid; a whitelipped white face and eyes, abysmal, inimical, like the sea seen through holes in an icefield. It was like being in love, this remembering, because Sobran couldn’t put Xas out of his mind. And it was like shame. Because he grew so tired defending himself from the pain of this one recollection, Sobran forgot everything else he knew about the angel.

❚ “This is not just a phenomenal love story, it is a beautiful work of art, totally outside of the square and completely riveting. Despite it’s far-fetched plot, it is believable and magical in every way. It’s the kind of book where you have to stop mid paragraph to declare ‘OMG that was a beautiful sentence.’

“The contrast of Knox’s imaginary heaven and hell vs the characters’ reality adds another level of beauty to the novel. And Xas is a wonderful guide through all of these lands. I have been in love with Xas ever since my first reading of this book, for he is perfect, and not in a cliched or expected way. Aurora is also a magnificent character, strong and assured but again never trite.

“This is a book that deeply moved me and features on my top ten faves of all time. What’s more, it was the book that Suzy and I formed our friendship over.” – Rachel

❚ “Whenever this book has come up in a random conversation and someone has said “what is it about” I have never been able to completely do it justice.  “A beautiful love story where a gay angel meets married French winemaker”? It is most definitely an utterly gorgeous and evocative book.  At the time I was first reading this book I met Rach – she said it was one of her all time favourites and I knew then we’d be BFFs 4evs. (Rach I’m sorry that I wrote BFFs 4evs in a paragraph about The Vintner’s Luck).” – Suzy

Published 1998
Victoria University Press
256 pages

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