Thursday, December 07, 2006

Love by the Glass Book Review

Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage
by Dorothy J Gaiter and John Brecher

ISBN: 0-8129-6686-4
Format: trade paperback
Pages: 317
Pub Date: 2003 by Random House
Suggested Retail Price: $12.95 (US)/$19.95 (Cdn)

Susan’s Take:

This book disappointed me – big time. I’d expected lush descriptions, extensive – or at least detailed – tasting notes, set against a rich backdrop of their careers and wine explorations. These guys are, after all, both apparently prize-winning journalists. What I had in my hands was a book that continually broke all the rules of good writing and didn’t even tell a decent story.

Most often, just as I was starting to get involved in the current tale of travelling or meeting winemakers, they’d simply stop – done, finito, ain’t no more folks. To me, this is the worst form of saying: I have an incredible piece of information but that’s another story so I’m not telling you. In grade school we used to follow such a statement with a singsong “Na na-na na!” Okay, so even as a non-parent I can accept it from a six-year-old. I expected more from Dorothy and John.

They also have major difficulties deciding whose point of view they’re using – not just in a given chapter but often within a paragraph and sometimes within a single sentence. Going from “Dottie bought John bottle of Chateau Latour” to “so we bought a third wine rack” in the same sentence still makes the hair on the back of my neck prickle. I haven’t figured out how to spell the howl of disapproval it evoked from a long-time editor friend of mine, but it was not a pretty sound.

I also found the never ending stories about “Dottie faces” – apparently specially commissioned on their coffee mugs, carpets, paintings, walls, and just everything else in their house – irritating and distracting. I’m sure they get a kick out of in their personal lives and I’ll admit it was kind of cute the first couple of times them mentioned it – a bit sappy but cute. By the twentieth time it was flat out annoying.

This book is definitely one I’d take a pass on. My copy got recycled to the secondhand store within 24 hours.

Frank’s Take:

Well, what I can I say about this one? I did mention the book to Susan as a possible good read. I do, from time to time, read their Wall Street Journal column and usually find it quite good.

Love by the Glass did have one chapter about a column where they encouraged people to open that special bottle of wine they had stashed away and enjoy it on a specific date. The responses were amazing and heartwarming. I wish the rest of the book was as good.

I’m sure my penance for even suggesting, never mind recommending, this book to Susan will involve a good bottle of wine.

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