A Vintage Summer – Cathy Bramley

Cathy Bramley is an author who I have grown to rely on and look forward to her novels with great excitement. When you know you are going to get lost in a story and enjoy some excellent writing then you know they are always a joy to read. This new novel was no different and lived up to all my expectations.

Lottie Allbright left Derbyshire to follow her love Harvey to London. But after six months it does not seem that love was on the agenda at all. When a chance encounter with a lady in the gardens at a crematorium, gives her the strength to make a decision, Lottie returns home to Derbyshire.

To her widowed father about to embark on a journey across Europe as well as a highly strung sister, Evie who will stop at nothing to be a mother. Lottie needs to find her place again in the world, find something she enjoys doing and to create a future for herself. Little does she know that the future came back with her from London.

When a job comes up at Butterworth Wines for some help for six months, it seems like the perfect opportunity for Lottie to throw herself into something and the bonus that it comes with accommodation means at least he is settled for a while.

However the job ends up being a lot more. Betsy the owner of the Vineyard, after her husband Ted passed away is losing her sight and will not admit it to anyone. She is trying to hide the truth from her grandson Jensen otherwise he will suggest putting her in a home. But she promised Ted that she would be there to see the harvest come in and she stands by her decision.

Lottie suddenly finds herself thrown in to a family which are still reeling from the death of Ted, the decline inf Betsy’s health as well as Betsy’s sister-in-law Marjorie, wheelchair bound because of an accident. Lottie needs to find out about viticulture and fast and so readers did I.

As Lottie gets to grip in producing English wine and English Sparkling Wine, the enthusiasm of all the volunteers knows no bounds. Matt, Clare, Roger, Godfrey and the shy Pippa all make up the team at Butterworth Wines and it is simply a case of Lottie directing them all to blend the wines, get in the harvest and perhaps make the vineyard a going concern for someone else to take on.

Trouble is the volunteers love the vineyard, all brought their by Ted for various different reasons, Betsy does not want to leave her home and Lottie has found something which she enjoys and can finally see herself settling down, especially when Jensen, the good-looking grandson shows an interest.

But when a discovery changes not just Lottie’s world, but Evies, Jensen’s and the prospect of Butterworth Wines survival it seems that this is going to be one summer that no one is going to forget.

This is a fantastic read. It has everything you want from a book, humour, tragedy, light and dark moments and covers some difficult subjects with careful consideration. Plus I got to learn a lot about viticulture as well as the word itself! Wonderful characters which are introduced gradually and all play a part in the overall story. They are not all flung in at the beginning of the novel, but woven into the tale as you go so they are full formed and can be remembered quite clearly once you have put the book down.

Vintage Cathy Bramley which absolutely fizzes!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

A Vintage Summer is published on 21 March.