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The Winemaker's Daughter

Cover of The Winemaker's Daughter

The Winemaker's Daughter

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Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times national correspondent Timothy Egan turns to fiction with The Winemaker's Daughter, a lyrical and gripping novel about the harsh realities and ecological challenges of turning water into wine.

When Brunella Cartolano visits her father on the family vineyard in the basin of the Cascade Mountains, she's shocked by the devastation caused by a four-year drought. Passionate about the Pacific Northwest ecology, Brunella, a cultural impact analyst, is embroiled in a battle to save the Seattle waterfront from redevelopment and to preserve a fisherman's livelihood. But when a tragedy among fire-jumpers results from a failure of the water supply--her brother Niccolo is among those lost--Brunella finds herself with another mission: to find out who is sabotaging the area's water supply. Joining forces with a Native American Forest Ranger, she discovers deep rifts rooted in the region's complicated history, and tries to save her father's vineyard from drying up for good . . . even as violence and corruption erupt around her.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times national correspondent Timothy Egan turns to fiction with The Winemaker's Daughter, a lyrical and gripping novel about the harsh realities and ecological challenges of turning water into wine.

When Brunella Cartolano visits her father on the family vineyard in the basin of the Cascade Mountains, she's shocked by the devastation caused by a four-year drought. Passionate about the Pacific Northwest ecology, Brunella, a cultural impact analyst, is embroiled in a battle to save the Seattle waterfront from redevelopment and to preserve a fisherman's livelihood. But when a tragedy among fire-jumpers results from a failure of the water supply--her brother Niccolo is among those lost--Brunella finds herself with another mission: to find out who is sabotaging the area's water supply. Joining forces with a Native American Forest Ranger, she discovers deep rifts rooted in the region's complicated history, and tries to save her father's vineyard from drying up for good . . . even as violence and corruption erupt around her.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter ONE

    Riding a memory, hot air floats up from the river and slides through an open door, finding Brunella Cartolano with her eyes closed. She takes a deep breath, feels lighter. Eight months of limited play and fitful sleep have passed under a cloud cover on the other side of the mountains, and now this--the air tickling the insides of her legs, a thermal tease. She orders black coffee and ice in a cup from the roadside caffeine hut and kicks off her shoes. She feels liquid.

    "Let's go sit on the rock."

    "Are there rattlesnakes?"

    "Yes, but they usually warn you. Follow me, Ethan. I'll show you something--"

    "What if I see one?"

    "You'll feel alive."

    "And how long will that last?"

    "As long as you dare."

    Crossing the Cascade Range, Brunella and Ethan Winthrop have stopped just east of the pass, an hour from the Cartolano family home, in a canyon lit by slices of sunlight. Though she lives in Seattle, barely two hundred miles from her father's coulee, Brunella has not seen a summer in the land of her birth for three years. She is the middle child, the only girl. As they left thickets of salal and salmonberry and the mist of the maritime pelt of the Cascades behind, she felt the tug of home. She was a different person--she could feel the change coming on, mile by mile--whenever she crossed the divide from the wet west side of the Cascades to the desert east.

    "I've never seen the river this low," she says. As she leads Ethan around a boulder he stumbles a bit, the hesitant walk of an indoor man. "But look . . . see where it turns there? That's where we used to go tub- ing. They say it's class three: a few bumps but it won't kill you. Not this year. Water's too flat."

    "I'm hot."

    "It's dry heat. Don't you love it?"

    "I hate the sun. Why live in the meteorological equivalent of a smiley face?"

    "You're such a stiff, Ethan."

    Here the big summits have given up their snow and the meadows are aflame with Indian paintbrush and columbine, brushed back by the thermal. She presses her feet into the sand and spells out n-e-l-l-a with her big toe. Two days removed from ice holds in the highest reaches of the mountains, the water slides over stones and pools up just downstream. Brunella takes off her top and wiggles out of her shorts.

    "Hold this." She hands him her clothes. Ethan glances back at the road, frowning.

    "And you can look if you want."

    "I'd rather not."

    "Now listen." She cups her hand to her ear, near the froth of a small channel of white water. Zeee-eeet! Zeee-eeet!

    "You hear that?"

    He shakes his head.

    "Dippers. These dinky birds that live in the shade of mountain streams and love white water."

    She plunges into a deep pool just below the riffles and, when she is fully submerged, opens her eyes. The rocks are a polished blur, the river grass sashaying. Brunella lets herself go limp in the arms of the current, riding the water downstream until she is out of sight and her laughter bounces against the canyon walls.

    They drive through a faux Bavarian village, the hotels, restaurants, and supermarket framed in costumes of alpine Tudor. At the town's lone stoplight, she looks away at the crowded balconies of the town structures and wonders if they would hold up if this part of the Cascades went into a shudder. It is the kind of trance she has fallen into of late--staring at brick warehouses or the stilts of the bridges that stitch one hill to another and thinking tectonic thrust: ocean plates pushing up against continental ones, shaking off the urban attachments like fleas on a dog.

    She pulls into the liquor store, buys scotch, gin,...

About the Author-
  • Timothy Egan, a third-generation westerner, is the author of Lasso the Wind, The Good Rain, and Breaking Blue. He has been a writer for The New York Times for the past fifteen years and was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for national reporting. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Joni Balter, and their two children. This is his first novel.

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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