Saturday 25 April 2020

Vintage 1954

Finished March 20
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain, translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce

This light novel has an interesting premise, time travel from wine made from grapes affected by an alien spacecraft. It's way better than that sounds.
Back in 1954, Pierre Chauveau saw a UFO. It appeared suddenly above his vineyard, stayed for a while, then suddenly disappeared. He was not the only one to report a sighting that year. No explanation for the phenomenon was ever discovered. In 1978, he opened a bottle of wine that he had laid down from that vintage, and shared a little (as he always did) with his German shepherd. The next morning, the two of them set off for work at the winery, but never arrived.
The main story begins in 2017, where a group of people get together for an impromptu celebration at an apartment building. They are all living there, some temporarily like Bob Brown, an American staying in an Airbnb on a long-planned trip to Paris, missing his wife Goldie who is in a coma in hospital back home in Milwaukee, and who was supposed to be with him. Others had recently moved into the building, like Magalie Lecoeur, a restoration specialist who took over a former carpet shop on the ground floor and used the former sixth floor storeroom as her apartment. Julien Chauveau, great-grandson of Pierre, also recently moved in to a small apartment in the building. Julien is a barman at the famous Harry's Bar, and has always been fascinated by his ancestor's story. Hubert Larnaudie, on the other hand, has lived in the building his whole life. It was his family who originally built it in 1868, and gradually sold off bits as they needed the funds. He retains a lot of pride in the building and its fixtures and accoutrements, and has recently raised the issue of the security of the cellars, many of whose shutters are broken leading to some recent burglaries. When he goes down to the cellars to check on them, he is drawn back into memories as he finds the myriad of items his family has stored over the years. One of them is a bottle of 1954 wine. When he gets locked in the cellars, he cries out for help, and it is Bob, arriving at the apartment, who hears his call for help. As he sends Bob to Magalie for assistance, Julien is also there, and after releasing Hubert and securing the cellars temporarily, Hubert invites them up to his apartment to share the bottle of wine.
When they awake and venture out the next morning, they find themselves in a bright sunny Paris, and each only gradually realizes that it is 1954. And then the adventures begin as they find each other and try to figure out how to get back to their own time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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