The Champagne War by Fiona McIntosh is the heart-wrenching new novel by this bestselling author of The Diamond Hunter and many more.
In 1910 Champenoise, Sophie Delancre, takes charge of the family vineyard in Epernay, France, after her family lose their lives in the Paris floods.
As the years pass, she grows to love Jerome Mea, whose family owns a neighbouring vineyard. Despite opposition, they fall in love and marry. It is now, however, the summer of 1914 and all too soon Jerome heads off to war.
Sophie is determined to keep both vineyards productive and to make the finest champagne, not only as testament to the love that she and Jerome share, but also to the strength and tenacity of the people of Epernay, particularly its courageous women.
As the war comes closer and the years pass she is notified by the authorities that Jerome is missing, presumed dead.
When the British join the war, chemist, Charles Nash, enlists, hoping to be of use regarding the poison gas used by the German troops in Belgium.
Barely escaping the battle with his life, he is taken to Reims, where Sophie has played a part in setting up an underground hospital to care for the injured.
Charles and Sophie find themselves in an emotional alliance as Sophie fights to keep her vineyards productive. A sugar shortage, however, threatens the production of her beloved champagne and forces her to form a toxic alliance.
Sophie continues to battle the odds and keeps faith that Jerome is still alive. Will she be proved right or will she have the courage to accept his demise?
This wonderfully poignant novel takes the reader from the mud, death and destruction that took place on the battlefields of Ypres to the peaceful rural setting of the French vineyards. It tells of the courage and determination of the people of Reims, who not only survive the shelling, but also rescue and tend the wounds of fellow citizens and troops alike no matter the danger.
Underground cellars in town and in the surrounding vineyards were used for healing and recuperation, as were homes and estates.
And yet, still the growing of vines and the production of wines and the best champagnes went on, due to the great determination of the workforce that was left.
The novel is a tribute to all of those who fought and suffered, lost loved ones and their land, but still triumphed over the horrors of death and destruction.
An absolute must read. Fiona never disappoints.
The Champagne War is available in paperback, e-book and audiobook
About Fiona McIntosh
Fiona McIntosh is an internationally bestselling author of novels for adults and children. She co-founded an award-winning travel magazine with her husband, which they ran for fifteen years while raising their twin sons before she became a full-time author. Fiona roams the world researching and drawing inspiration for her novels, and runs a series of highly respected fiction masterclasses. She calls South Australia home.