Book Review: The Villa
By Shabna Cader Ceylon Today Features
Giambelli has pride itself over the years as a brand that grows, produces and sells some of the best wines in the country. At the centre of this machine is Sophia, the pride of the clan and vital player in the business. She runs the marketing and promotional campaigns for the family and has a powerful streak to whatever she lays her hands on.
Tyler MacMillan is a simple man. His ways are humble and focused simply on nurturing the vines that will yield the best fruit of each year and therefore the best wine. He has no time or need for numbers or how the business runs.
All that is about to change at the Giambelli household.
Family matriarch Tereza is about to announce a surprise merger with the MacMillan family’s winery and it seems that the entire lot of persons involved are going to have to pull up their pants and simply go with it. She won’t have it any other way.
Sophie and Tyler are only two of the injured party and thrown into a whirlpool of having to teach other their own ropes and how each side of the business runs. Sophie, learning trade of growing the perfect grape, and Tyler about marketing the wine.
The merger needs to go smoothly but it seems to have ruffled a couple more feathers than it should have. Some family members are not just unhappy, but livid with the changes and won’t stand for it even if out loud it isn’t possible.
Eventually business is threatened by disturbing acts of sabotage. A member of the clan winds up dead, shot three times in Sophie’s city apartment. One bottle of wine is found to be contaminated and leads to the death of another. Is someone trying to usurp the Giambellis and cash in on the profits as they hit an all time low?
I liked that there was a great deal of delving into each of the characters. Tereza, with her stick straight ideologies of the business and management, Pilar with her graceful poise and Sophie with her sharp edge and wit. Not forgetting some of the others who were just as important - Tyler, David with his two wildly intriguing children, and secondary characters that brought together the entire story.
They were constructed quite carefully and added colour and life to the novel that was also very interesting and thorough in terms of the entire process of making of wine. If the science behind it intrigues you, you’ll enjoy this read very much. The book has more than just one love story which is a nice and subtle addition. There’s murder and mayhem. There are plenty of twists and turns. There’s a strong sense of family and loyalty. Roberts keeps you on edge from start to finish in all honesty and I quite like to think The Villa ranks amongst my top five favourite novels of hers.