Monday, July 26, 2010

The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox

The Vintner's Luck is the story of the relationship between a human and an angel. In 1808, Sobran Jodeau is a young vintner who steals two bottles of the family wine and wanders off into the vineyard one night with the intention of drowning his first real sorrow in drunkenness. He literally stumbles into the angel Xas, who catches him as he falls. They spend the night discussing Sobran's rejection and agree to meet again at the same place the following year. Xas has an appetite for earthly pleasures and this meeting, between human and angel, becomes an annual event that develops into a relationship that intensifies causing much joy and sorrow.

I must say up front that I struggled during most of the book with what I considered a theological affront. The God that Knox presents is not inherently good and neither is Lucifer inherently evil; there is really very little to recommend one over the other. God and Lucifer are immortal beings focused on their own eternal battle. They maintain a remote existence from humanity while using the angel, Xas, as a pawn. This does create an empathy, especially for Xas. It is this empathy, and my own pursuit of the deeper questions underlying the story that kept me reading this book. Oh, and the writing. Gorgeous.

The writing is at once lush and succinct, and left me both dazzled and sometimes confused. I had to work hard to determine the meaning of some passages and even then they were sometimes elusive leaving a "cloudy" spot. I like the way Memory, in her review, describes Knox's writing as "rarely transparent."

The Vintner's Luck is much more than a moving story written beautifully. It is deeply spiritual and delves into the very nature of love and hatred, of good and evil ... with an intensity that made me cry at times. What does it mean to be fallen? To be redeemed? To be rejected? To be loved? How very painfully these things seem to intertwine sometimes.

So, did I like the book? I am aware that my thoughts might seem a bit conflicting without a clear answer to this question. I will say that I was both repulsed by and drawn to this story. The author was able to get under my skin and move me. I sat about thinking for hours after reading this book. These are good things. *smile*


  1. I'm glad it gave you lots of food for thought! I can see how the theological angle would be a sticking point.

  2. I need to try this one again...I started it awhile back and got about 50 pages in and abandoned it :( It wasn't that I didn't like it, I just couldn't get sucked into it...I think I need to read it when I'm looking for a more quiet read.

  3. I have to say your review has me even more intrigued! Not being Christian I'll probably react to the theological aspects differently, but anyway, it sounds like a beautiful book that deals with a lot of challenge ideas.c

  4. What a lovely review! I didn't connect with this one (for some reason, Knox's writing style drove me a bit batty), but I did love all of the ideas explored.

  5. Memory & Nymeth: I do so like books that give me some room to think. I don't usually mind a theological "challenge," but the timing of this read was a bit off for me. Life has been a bit challenging lately so my usual good nature was sorely tried as I read this! I've actually gone back and re-read some passages so I could think about it some more :o)

    Chris: Yes, this one should be read from a more reflective place. Hope it works for you next time you try it.

    Eva: Glad you enjoyed the review! I can see why you didn't mesh with the writing style. There were times I felt it was too succinct and those bits remain cloudy for me.

  6. I never did read this and I still don't know if I'd like it or not? Thanks for the thorough review Terri.

  7. I'd say, then, that the book is good. LOL. Thanks for the review.

  8. I've been eyeing this book in a book store. Your review surely made me curious. I think The Vintner's Luck goes onto my TBR list just now. :)