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Wines, Water Rights, Coulees and Cultures: The Winemaker's Daughter by Timothy Egan
Pulitzer Prize winning author Timothy Egan, Pacific Northwest correspondent for The New York Times, is most noted for his works of non-fiction such as The Good Rain, The Worst Hard Time, and The Big Burn. The one novel on his resume is The Winemaker’s Daughter. Just as in his non-fiction books, one of the strengths of The Winemaker’s Daughter is its sense of place. Primarily, in this case that means the lands east of the North Cascades made fertile through water from the Columbia River. However, the book also includes story lines which reflect Seattle and the vineyards of Italy.
The book’s protagonist is Brunella Cartolano, a headstrong architect who works in Seattle but whose heart resides in the land east of the mountains where her father’s vineyard lies. Angelo Cartolano emigrated from Italy as a young man, and his life has been devoted to creating a vineyard that not only replicates but exceeds that which he knew in his youth. The storylines within the book include subtleties of winemaking, the complexities of and competition for water rights, the conflicts between preservation and progress, the dangers of fighting forest fires, and the eternal battle between those who love the land and those who just wish to make money from it.
If you’ve ever been in awe as you’ve crossed the mountains from our side of the state to the land of the coulees, then the descriptions within this book are worth the read. There is a bit of mystery in the story, which is sometimes hard to follow. But Egan is a talented writer, as those of you who have read any of his other books will already know. The Winemaker’s Daughter is another book which helps us understand the contemporary Pacific Northwest.
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