The Vintner's Luck, by Elizabeth Knox
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One summer evening in 1808, Sobran Jodeau stumbles through his family's vineyard in Burgundy, filled with wine and love sorrows. As Sobran sways in a drunken swoon, an angel appears out of nowhere to catch him.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 mysterious than angelic. Compelling and erotic, The Vintner's Luck is a decidedly unorthodox love story, one that presents angels as fierce and beautiful as Milton's, and a vision of Heaven, Hell, and the vineyards in between that is unforgettable.
The Vintner’s Luck is a huge bestseller in New Zealand. It has sold over 50 000 copies in New Zealand and over 100 000 copies worldwide.
The Vintner’s Luck was published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Picador US, and in the UK by Chatto & Windus and Vintage. It has been published in German, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish and Hebrew. It won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 1999 The Montana NZ Book Awards, where it also received the Readers' Choice and Booksellers' Choice awards.
It was longlisted for the 1999 Orange Prize for fiction (UK) The Vintner’s Luck won the 2001 Tasmania Pacific Region Prize, and is the basis of a film directed by Niki Caro.
Praise for The Vintner's Luck
Like a fine wine, this novel reveals its quality and charm in layers, providing richer rewards and delights the further one moves through it. After the initial rapture of experiencing good traditional storytelling peppered with great prose, it is the hidden depths that make this a rich and satisfying experience, one to savour again and again.
Michael Larsen NZ HERALD
It is a startling firework of a novel, probably the most sustained work of imagination to come from a New Zealand author in a book set elsewhere.
Peter Wells THE LISTENER
In winemaking terms, this is a novel of rare quality, a Grand Cru of ample length and great complexity, intensely human in character but with strong celestial overtones. Potent and reflective, it is a book to be savoured, leaving a memory of wings, a lingering scent of fresh snow.
Molly Anderson OTAGO DAILY TIMES
Blood, grit, dust, salt, sand, feathers - characters in The Vintner's Luck are covered in all of these, but the reader flies on the wings of Knox's prose into heaven, out of hell, to emerge enriched on earth in 1997 at the chateau Vully l'Ange du Cru Jodeau.
Catharina van Bohemen EVENING POST
Beautifully written, The Vintner's Luck possesses a complex boutique of conceits and and ideas but it is the simplicity of Elizabeth Knox's writing that in the end draws out the savour of human experience and compassion
James Urquhart THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
This is a gorgeous novel: as fine, rich, satiny and unpredictable as the vintages it describes... From our unquenched thirst to wrestle accommodation between the human and the divine is born this textured, beautifully written exploration of the inexplicable, into which is woven an all-too-human chronicle of burning desire, violence, murderousness, bitter jealously, curiosity, sexual deviation, shame and a fidelity of a sort. Ambitious and unconventional,The Vintner's Luck could easily have crashed. Instead, it soars.
THE TIMES (UK)
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 sensual 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 challenging..[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