Memoir: Glass Half Full, Caro Feely, Summersdale, €14
It all sounds impossibly romantic. Ditch the day job, flee the city, the office and the traffic, and move with your beloved and two smallies to run an old vineyard you've just purchased in France.
Think of rolling fields of sunflowers and lavender, and the hills all covered in vines. Think of Russell Crowe in the movie A Good Year, think of hazy French sunlight, French food, French wine…
Now think of a single, violent hailstorm threatening your entire harvest, a harvest you desperately need to feed your family for the next year. Think of playing chambermaid every morning in the lodge you've renovated for holiday rentals, of hosting daily wine tasting sessions, of the endless prep and all the washing up. Think of the guilt around making time for your children, of French bureaucracy and language barriers and of the difficulty of farming organically when all around you are spraying insecticides.
Caro Feely certainly explores the downside in this searingly honest book. But she still loves her life.
Glass Half Full is a charming book, not exclusively about making wine. It is an unflinching journal of a marriage, of a family and of working like a dog.
It's a chronicle of how the Feelys handled their many obstacles while working 14-hour shifts. Add to this mix some menopausal mood swings and it makes for a heady concoction!
But there are joys, too; the joy of watching their children growing, the joy of discovering yoga, the huge satisfaction in producing most of their own food as well as their wine.
Chateau Feely is beginning to attract some serious attention and to win awards. A few distinguished and world-renowned experts drop by and leave the Feely winery with only good things to say. Holiday bookings for the lodge are on the increase after the budget is almost blown on a very necessary guests' swimming pool, and the wine-tasting events and local walking tours are also booking up well. This project is fulfilling its potential and starting to pay for itself. Caro Feely's fourth book is an inspiring story about following your dream and working hard as you must to achieve it.
It's written in an easy, conversational style and I enjoyed it immensely. Which is really saying something, coming from a person with just two wine preferences; red and white...