Ayra always wanted to be an Art Historian. She saw herself flitting between galleries, talking Michelangelo and Dali with glamorous ease. At twenty–nine, life has decided to make her an underpaid investment banker juggling an eccentric family, a fading career and a long–distance relationship that is becoming a light-year one. On a monsoon day in June, she is suddenly sent packing from Mumbai to Tuscany to buy a vineyard for a star client. What should have been a four day trip turns into a two week treasure hunt that finds her in the middle of midnight wine deals, dodgy vintners, rolling Tuscan hills, a soap opera family and one playboy millionaire who is looking to taste more than just the wine. Towards the end she finds that the road to true happiness is almost as elusive as that perfect glass of Chianti.
Being a wine lover not only helps you gulp down good wine, in my case it helped pick up a good book. A book isn’t much different from good wine, both help in rousing your senses to finer capacities. The blurb attracted me to the mystic land of vineyards, vintners, Chianti and all romanticism that is Italian.
Just like wine lovers swear by Chianti, book lovers swear by good language. Even before the plot and situations, Reshma K Barshikar’s words caught my attention. Free flowing, smooth and rich like a good wine. Scooping up much of her own experiences of touring Italy, Reshma has put up a beautiful backdrop for her protagonist Ayra. I’m glad that she broke away the myth of investment bankers being boring and losers (as portrayed in all Bolly flicks). Ayra is pretty, intelligent, smart and she wanted to be an Art Historian. Now we all know why people crave to do something and end up doing something else instead. Ayra is engaged to her fiancé Kartik. The idiosyncrasies and ambiance of a Chennai household is depicted wonderfully by the author.
The plot thickens when Ayra is sent on an assignment to Italy. She has to assist a rich billionaire in buying a vineyard. Ayra is tossed between personal turmoil and professional hiccups. The journey within Italy is as picturesque as it could be. Reshma has left no stone unturned to paint a lovely, fruity landscape with relationships as intricate as iron trellises supporting the fragile vines. We’ve learnt enough about banking, finance and the corporate world in other novels last year. This book taught me all about vendemmia (grape harvest), terroir (the environment required to grow grapes), Materia Prima and a lot more. Wine-making is as intricate as growing the grapes properly and I haven’t read an Indian novel earlier which dealt with this subject.
Ayra and Ishaan’s conversations combine humour, satire, tension, romance and work. The other characters play important roles in supporting them carrying the story forward. It’s a taut, nice novel, with probably a tad too corporate jargon at times. Recommended not only to Romance readers, do read if you love Italy in any way.
2015 for me began on a lighter, spicier and fruitier note. Salute!
My Rating: 4/5
About the Author:
After finishing her A Levels at Bridgine School, Windsor, and getting a BA (Hons) at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, Reshma started her career as a Journalist for India’s national newspaper The Hindu, Business Line but left mid-career to pursue an MBA at the Indian School of Business that led to a successful career in Investment Banking. After 5 years in Investment Banking she quit her job to travel for two years and visited Europe, China, and the US. She conceptualized the novel during her travels through the Tuscany wine country. She created the eccentric Ms Krishnamoorty, her precocious cat and her dog eat deal environment. Her deep appreciation for the south Indian family dynamic, experience as a freelance journalist and a passion for Italian wine helped create Fade Into Red. Simultaneously she also honed her skills as a Travel Writer and has contributed to India Today Travel Plus, SilverKris, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, National Geographic Traveller and The Hindu Business Line. She is also co-founder of the literary blog, The Caterpillar Café.
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Romance
Author(s): Reshma K Barshikar
Publisher: Random House India, Year Published: 2014 June
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 376
ISBN-13: 9788184005547 , ISBN-10: 8184005547
Reviewed For: b00kr3vi3ws