Book Club Friday: True Vines

It's been a very long time since I've trolled NetGalley. With my revisions and ever-expanding TBR pile, I just didn't have the time. But since my revisions are winding down (read: sent out to readers for feedback) I finally had some time to peruse. One of the (many) books I requested was True Vines. And let me tell you, it was unbelievable. 

Like, un-be-liev-a-ble. Yes, all five syllables need to be accentuated when talking about True Vines because that's just how good it was. I started on Wednesday night, stayed up WAY too late, and then finished Thursday morning. And now I'm positing a review because there was no way I could wait until next week. Usually, it takes me a while to write a review, but I found myself drafting it in my head the SECOND I finished. Well, after I wiped the tears from my cheeks and blew my nose, that is. 

Instead of writing my own summary, I'll defer to the one on Goodreads, because A LOT happens and the existing summary…well…sums it up, nicely. Haha!

When the Italian countryside simply won't leave your heart...

After the sudden death of her Italian winemaker husband, Meryl Michelli flees to her small hometown in Pennsylvania, looking to slam the door on heartache and trudge forward. But it's never that simple, especially when old family ties have been strained by years of geographic and emotional distance. 

A chance encounter with a childhood friend brings back a betrayal she could never put to rest, and readjusting to life in the States in upper mid-life wears her thin in ways she never could have imagined. Just when Meryl feels she can't go on, Providence steps in and gives her permission to completely fall apart. Only then can she finally manage to grieve both her magnanimous, flawed Francesco and the unforgettable country she left behind.

True Vines traverses the manicured rows of northern Italy's majestic wine country and the winding path of Pennsylvania's Delaware River as Meryl seeks to reconcile her past and her present. Several people on each side of the Atlantic guide her as she relives her own stories: a spirited sister-in-law, a petulant physician, a strong-willed landlady, a good-guy boss, a determined mother-in-law, an amazing flood survivor, a Senegalese English student, a young co-worker. Each recollection and encounter deepens Meryl's insight into how to make peace with her new reality.

Saying goodbye to one existence allows Meryl to swing the door open to another as she weaves a new, uniquely beautiful tapestry that transports her to exactly the place in this short, sacred life she is meant to be.

Guys, I don't even know where to start with my review because I loved the book so freaking much. To the point that Meryl Michelli now has a place in my heart as one of my all-time favourite characters. She was undeniably sympathetic, totally messed up in certain areas, and walked the line between strong and vulnerable like a seasoned pro. I was drawn into Meryl's world so completely, and so utterly, that I was devastated when the books' many strings were tied up so neatly at the end because I hoped there would be room for a sequel. To say it another way, if I were Christopher Walken, instead of demanding more cow bell, I'd be demanding MORE MERYL. Haha!

Aside from an incredible main character, True Vines has a lot more going on: love, laughter, heartbreak, loss, redemption, deceit, triumph, and puppies--yes, PUPPIES. And the emotional growth of the characters, guys. THE EMOTIONAL GROWTH! Being a writer of women's fiction, myself, I was astounded with how much Diana Strinati Baur was able to accomplish.  Not just with Meryl, but with EVERYONE. Because the level of craft, guys. OH THE LEVEL OF CRAFT! 

*sighs happily*

At times, there were huge sections of internal narrative but instead of checking-out, I found myself leaning closer to the screen so I could devour every word. Not once did I skim. Not once! And that's saying something because I find internal narrative to be kind of boring when it goes on for a couple of pages. But that SO did not happen with True Vines. The narrative was gripping, raw, and completely engaging. And then, in the end, everything comes together in ways that I never could have imagined. Good ways! Bad ways! Ways that I may not have agreed with but approved of anyway! I laughed, cried, and wanted to hug my iPad when it was done. The writing swept me away for an entire five hours and I enjoyed every single second. If I could give True Vines more than five stars, I would. 

And if the enchanting prose, incredible main character, and emotionally dense plot wasn't enough to entice you, half the book takes place in Italy. On a vineyard, no less (hence the name). So, yeah, this book is pretty much the best thing ever and it will come as no surprise to you that True Vines gets my MUST READ rating. 

Go and get it, people. GO AND GET IT NOW!

Thanks to Heather for hosting!