Winemaker's Wife (Harmel) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. This novel takes place in the champagne-producing region of France. How does the location play into the plot? Is the setting crucial to the story, or could this book have taken place at any vineyard during World War II?

2. Ines struggles with her place at the Maison Chauveau. She feels disrespected by her husband and left out of everything important. Did you feel sympathy for Ines’s predicament, or were you frustrated by her focus on her own problems? Or a mix of both?

3. Michel is not very attentive to Ines and doesn’t notice her attempts to be useful. However, he pays very close attention to Celine. Why do you think Michel was so frustrated with Inès?

4. Ines looks inward for much of the novel, and as a result, she misses a lot of the horror happening around her. How did you feel about her spending time with a Nazi collaborator? How do you think Ines justified it to herself?

5. Much of The Winemaker’s Wife revolves around characters being complacent in a time of crisis; therefore, it’s easy for one to be willfully blind to what’s really happening. Are there other times in history where this same observation applies?

6. Liv has her own struggles, including dealing with the end of her marriage. How does her situation compare with Ines’s predicament?

7. Celine goes through an emotional journey over the course of the novel, worrying about her family and her own safety. Her story, sadly, is dictated by the times she lived in. Did you feel satisfied with the way it turned out, or did you want Celine’s story to go differently?

8. Michel feels that he must defy the Nazis in any way he can. How did you feel about his resistance, with his knowing that he was putting others at Maison Chauveau in harm’s way?

9. Ines tries to help the Resistance, but those around her accuse her of only acting, as a way to prove that she’s useful—in essence, for still having selfish motives. How did you separate her motives from her actions? Is there something inherently selfish in every generous act?

10. Discuss what you learned about champagne making in The Winemaker’s Wife. How much did you know before you read the novel, and what did you learn from it?

11. Harmel surprises the reader with a twist, revealing new truths about modern-day Edith’s identity. Did you suspect that this was the case? Did it impact your understanding of the character of Ines?

12. The selfishness Ines displays has dire consequences at the end of the book. Do you think her work in the Resistance redeemed her?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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