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The vineyards stretched away in every direction as he plucked a perfect red grape, sparkling with dew. “Marry me,” he’d said. “We’ll run these vineyards together.” But now he is gone. There is no one to share the taste of the first fruit of the harvest. And her troubles are hers alone… In sleepy little Reims, France, grieving Nicole Clicquot watches her daughter play amongs The vineyards stretched away in every direction as he plucked a perfect red grape, sparkling with dew. “Marry me,” he’d said. “We’ll run these vineyards together.” But now he is gone. There is no one to share the taste of the first fruit of the harvest. And her troubles are hers alone… In sleepy little Reims, France, grieving Nicole Clicquot watches her daughter play amongst the vines under the golden sun and makes a promise to herself. Her gossiping neighbours insist that the rolling fields of chalk soil are no place for a woman, but she is determined to make a success of the winery. It’s the only chance she has to keep a roof over her head and provide a future for her little girl. But as the seasons change, bringing a spoiled harvest and bitter grapes, the vineyards are on the brink of collapse. Without her husband’s oldest friend, travelling merchant Louis, she’d truly be lost. No one else would stay up all night to help count endless rows of green bottles deep in the cellars, or spread word far and wide that Nicole makes the finest champagne he’s ever tasted. One magical night, as a shooting star illuminates their way under a velvet sky, Nicole gazes up at his warm smile and wonders if perhaps she doesn’t need to be quite so alone… But when Louis shrinks from her touch after returning from a long trip abroad, Nicole fears something is terribly wrong. And as an old secret about her husband – that only Louis knew – spreads from the cobbled village streets all the way to the Paris salons, her heart and fragile reputation are shattered. Was she wrong to put her trust in another man? And with Napoleon’s wars looming on the horizon, can she find a way to save her vineyards, and her daughter, from ruin? Fans of Chocolat, Carnegie’s Maid, Dinah Jeffries and anyone longing to sip champagne under the stars will adore this stunning historical read, inspired by the true story of how Nicole Clicquot blazed her own path to build the world’s greatest champagne house: Veuve Clicquot. Previously titled: The Champagne Widow


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The vineyards stretched away in every direction as he plucked a perfect red grape, sparkling with dew. “Marry me,” he’d said. “We’ll run these vineyards together.” But now he is gone. There is no one to share the taste of the first fruit of the harvest. And her troubles are hers alone… In sleepy little Reims, France, grieving Nicole Clicquot watches her daughter play amongs The vineyards stretched away in every direction as he plucked a perfect red grape, sparkling with dew. “Marry me,” he’d said. “We’ll run these vineyards together.” But now he is gone. There is no one to share the taste of the first fruit of the harvest. And her troubles are hers alone… In sleepy little Reims, France, grieving Nicole Clicquot watches her daughter play amongst the vines under the golden sun and makes a promise to herself. Her gossiping neighbours insist that the rolling fields of chalk soil are no place for a woman, but she is determined to make a success of the winery. It’s the only chance she has to keep a roof over her head and provide a future for her little girl. But as the seasons change, bringing a spoiled harvest and bitter grapes, the vineyards are on the brink of collapse. Without her husband’s oldest friend, travelling merchant Louis, she’d truly be lost. No one else would stay up all night to help count endless rows of green bottles deep in the cellars, or spread word far and wide that Nicole makes the finest champagne he’s ever tasted. One magical night, as a shooting star illuminates their way under a velvet sky, Nicole gazes up at his warm smile and wonders if perhaps she doesn’t need to be quite so alone… But when Louis shrinks from her touch after returning from a long trip abroad, Nicole fears something is terribly wrong. And as an old secret about her husband – that only Louis knew – spreads from the cobbled village streets all the way to the Paris salons, her heart and fragile reputation are shattered. Was she wrong to put her trust in another man? And with Napoleon’s wars looming on the horizon, can she find a way to save her vineyards, and her daughter, from ruin? Fans of Chocolat, Carnegie’s Maid, Dinah Jeffries and anyone longing to sip champagne under the stars will adore this stunning historical read, inspired by the true story of how Nicole Clicquot blazed her own path to build the world’s greatest champagne house: Veuve Clicquot. Previously titled: The Champagne Widow

30 review for The French House: Gripping and heartbreaking French historical fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    The Champagne Widow by Helen Fripp is a 2021 historical fiction release I found on NetGalley. I've never read anything by the author but champagne is one of my favorite beverages--and I've tasted and compared Moet and Clicquot and others--so I picked up a copy around the holidays. This week, I dove in. It took 4 days to finish the book. I read about a quarter each night before bed and enjoyed the writing style and overall story. Let's get into the details... The tale occurs during the French Revo The Champagne Widow by Helen Fripp is a 2021 historical fiction release I found on NetGalley. I've never read anything by the author but champagne is one of my favorite beverages--and I've tasted and compared Moet and Clicquot and others--so I picked up a copy around the holidays. This week, I dove in. It took 4 days to finish the book. I read about a quarter each night before bed and enjoyed the writing style and overall story. Let's get into the details... The tale occurs during the French Revolution, beginning shortly before 1790 and ending around 1815. Nicole Clicquot comes from an aristocratic family but she is one with the people and has a good heart and soul. As a child, she visits the local townspeople and watches them being slaughtered. She vows to stop it, but as a young ingenue in 19th century France, this isn't possible. As Napoléon rises to power, Nicole grows up and falls in love with Francois, dreaming of making their vineyard successful. Tragedy strikes. And she also rejects Moet's advantageous proposal, which kicks off a lifelong battle between their families, classes, and vineyards. I'm a history buff, but I often forget a lot of details when I read so much. It was wonderful to revisit the French Revolution, learn more about the Russians who participated in conquering Europe during the early 1800s, and determine which side had the better ideals. Though the book isn't about politics, it covers a good amount of 'power' relationships between the French, Russians, and the rest of Europe. I also learned about some early champagne-making techniques, which were all fun aspects of the novel. Too bad I was already in bed when reading or I'd pour myself a glass to sip while reading. As a story, it has merit. I felt like I was living two centuries ago, and I enjoyed the background setting and descriptions of people's homes, lands, and styles. At times, this was a bit excessive and I found myself skimming a few paragraphs to get back to the plot. At its core, this is not an uplifting book. Nicole suffers greatly in her feud with Moet, her crumbling marriage, and her lack of funds to promote her brand. But several people step in to help, most memorable-Alexei, Louis, Xavier, Natasha, a couple of French aristocrats with ties to Russian militants. There is a deep sadness in the story, and you really want Nicole to succeed, especially for her daughter, Clementine's, future. It ends on a positive note, which we should all know given the successful brand is still around today. I felt the book was a little long in some spots... mostly because it was less about plot and more about revisiting her setbacks and emotional concerns. Some of these sections were slow and occasionally caused me to lose interest. I was able to stop each night as opposed to thirsting to stay up later. It's not a bad thing... as I enjoyed the book, and it is nice to relax and read rather than have suspense all the time. I'd recommend it to others who enjoy this topic in history, even-paced historical dramas, melancholia and hardship, and eloquent writing. I would also read another book by this author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    Ok, I did try to like this book with all my heart; historical fiction is one of my favourite genres after all. But sometimes, even the best of reading intentions don't work in making the book click. Looking at the other ratings and reviews, I am much in the minority. So please take this review with a pinch of salt and do give the book a try. The French House is set in post-revolution France, where Napoleon was on his rampage and the European political situation was unstable. (Thank you, publishe Ok, I did try to like this book with all my heart; historical fiction is one of my favourite genres after all. But sometimes, even the best of reading intentions don't work in making the book click. Looking at the other ratings and reviews, I am much in the minority. So please take this review with a pinch of salt and do give the book a try. The French House is set in post-revolution France, where Napoleon was on his rampage and the European political situation was unstable. (Thank you, publishers, for changing the title. The earlier name had a huge spoiler.) Nicole Clicquot has big dreams along with her husband François of having a successful winery. But passing times bring greater tribulations and she soon finds herself dealing with the chauvinist members of society who can't palate the idea of a woman handing a business successfully. Nicole Clicquot might be known to you as Veuve Clicquot, one of the first ever successful businesswomen and owner of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, a French champagne house founded in 1772 and existing even today as a specialised premium champagne producer. Madame Clicquot was also renowned for inventing the riddling table process to clarify champagne in 1816 and creating the first known blended rosé champagne in 1818. She was an independent thinker in spite of the era she was born in and is a woman to be admired and emulated. However, the book must be judged not for what it tells us about Madame Clicquot but on how it does so. And sadly, the "how" didn't work for me. The book is a debut work and it shows. The author tries to include everything possible to provide a valid historical fiction and in the process, creates a great deal of clutter. Many of the secondary characters appear and disappear randomly. Some of the side-tracks were not relevant to the main story at all. Nicole's character in the book seems to go back and forth in her decisions, without any justifiable reasons. Natasha's and Clementine's characters are underexplored, Teresa's is over-utilised. Xavier's and Louis' characters seem to change as per the whims of the author. I could not identify with the rationale of even a single character. This could have been a fantastic story, not just because of the uncommon era it is set in but also because it brings to us a powerhouse of a woman from the forgotten past. But I guess I picked this up at the wrong time because everyone else seems to be going gaga over the book. If you want a look into the fictional life of a great woman from history, you could certainly give this book a try. I regret that it didn’t work for me, but from the other reviews, it does look like it could be a pleasant reading experience if picked up at the right time. Thank you, NetGalley and Bookouture, for the Advanced Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun. Follow me on Instagram: RoshReviews

  3. 4 out of 5

    Srivalli Rekha

    4.3 stars The book is based on the true story of none other than Nicole Clicquot, the woman who ran the world’s greatest champagne house, Veuve Clicquot, when the world thought the business was no place for a lady. Of course, I wasn’t aware of this when I requested the book. The blurb and cover were enough to attract my attention. The book deals with the life of Nicole Clicquot since she was 11 years old (1790) until the time things start to look hopeful after Russia defeats Napolean and decides 4.3 stars The book is based on the true story of none other than Nicole Clicquot, the woman who ran the world’s greatest champagne house, Veuve Clicquot, when the world thought the business was no place for a lady. Of course, I wasn’t aware of this when I requested the book. The blurb and cover were enough to attract my attention. The book deals with the life of Nicole Clicquot since she was 11 years old (1790) until the time things start to look hopeful after Russia defeats Napolean and decides to open the trade borders with France in 1815. We see Nicole as a girl, a young lady with a spark in her eyes, a wife, a mother, a widow, and most importantly, an unrelenting businesswoman. She worked in the vineyards as a worker and took the business to new heights as a successful boss. Of course, times were hard and even brutal. Things hit a new low, but Nicole continued. I’ve read about the great woman on Wikipedia and loved her grit. Coming to the book, it’s a mix of facts and fiction. We have Louis, the real-life loyal salesman of the company, along with various fictional characters. The love shared by the husband and wife and their mutual love for the vineyards were taken from real life, the author said. We see an array of characters, and a good number of them have been well developed. Theresa, Xavier, Natasha, Madame Oliver, Emile, Alexei, Moet (along with Nicole and Louis) have depth and appear quite real. They have flaws, they have positives, and their actions align with their personalities. The descriptions of the vineyards, the growing vines, the champagne-making process are vivid and wonderful. I enjoyed them a lot. Some made me want to try champagne and see if it would really be as it was described in the book (I’m a teetotaller). A lot happens in the book, and it can be overwhelming if you read it all at once. I mean, it felt like so much had happened, and I saw that I reached only 50% of the book. That’s both an advantage and a disadvantage. This is one of those books you have to read in installments. You won’t mind putting it down to take a breather and pick it up the next day. But yes, you will pick it up. Overall, The Champagne Widow is a lovely book with more grief and struggles than laughter, but it is worth reading if you like women-centric books, especially with a war backdrop. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bookouture and am voluntarily leaving a review. #TheChampagneWidow #NetGalley ******* Read the full review here.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Feinen

    Wow! An incredible historical novel about a woman who refused to be anyone other than herself. I have a massive book hangover. I received a free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Nicole refuses to be young lady - she runs with the boys, breathes the soil and falls madly in love. Together Francois and Nicole lay the foundation for a timeless vineyard. After his death, Nicole refuses to quietly live in the country. The vineyard becomes her life focus, her obsession to overcome a Wow! An incredible historical novel about a woman who refused to be anyone other than herself. I have a massive book hangover. I received a free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Nicole refuses to be young lady - she runs with the boys, breathes the soil and falls madly in love. Together Francois and Nicole lay the foundation for a timeless vineyard. After his death, Nicole refuses to quietly live in the country. The vineyard becomes her life focus, her obsession to overcome all obstacles. All the feels.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Renita D'Silva

    Extraordinary. Outstanding. This book moved and absorbed me. The story of an absolutely amazing woman so beautifully told. The writing is just wow! Sensuous and fizzy and glorious as the finest champagne. It is vivid and evocative and transports you immediately and completely to the chalky vineyards heady with ripening grapes. Beautifully researched, this book is exquisite. Absolute perfection. A masterpiece. One of my favourite reads ever. Cannot wait for more from this author. Do read this one Extraordinary. Outstanding. This book moved and absorbed me. The story of an absolutely amazing woman so beautifully told. The writing is just wow! Sensuous and fizzy and glorious as the finest champagne. It is vivid and evocative and transports you immediately and completely to the chalky vineyards heady with ripening grapes. Beautifully researched, this book is exquisite. Absolute perfection. A masterpiece. One of my favourite reads ever. Cannot wait for more from this author. Do read this one. If you don't you're missing out on one of the finest books out this year and one of the best historical fiction reads ever.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nisha Joshi

    When there is a story about a strong woman, I need to read it! Which is why I requested The French House that is based on Nicole Clicquot, the lady who ran the Veuve Clicquot, the largest house of champagne makers at a time when women were confined to the kitchen and were expected to be baby-making machines. The story was good though the writing was clunky in parts. Some of the side stories had no relevance to the main plot and could have been done away with completely as also some characters. 3.4 When there is a story about a strong woman, I need to read it! Which is why I requested The French House that is based on Nicole Clicquot, the lady who ran the Veuve Clicquot, the largest house of champagne makers at a time when women were confined to the kitchen and were expected to be baby-making machines. The story was good though the writing was clunky in parts. Some of the side stories had no relevance to the main plot and could have been done away with completely as also some characters. 3.4 stars. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Em__Jay

    THE FRENCH HOUSE by Helen Fripp offers a fictionalised depiction of the life of a most remarkable woman: Barbe-Nicole Clicquot. The Widow Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot – yes, just like you see on the brand’s Champagne bottles today) is known for having revolutionised Champagne production methods that are still in use today. Beyond her skill as a wine maker, Madame Clicquot was an astute and ultimately successful business person in a time when women had few rights to property or business. It was also a THE FRENCH HOUSE by Helen Fripp offers a fictionalised depiction of the life of a most remarkable woman: Barbe-Nicole Clicquot. The Widow Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot – yes, just like you see on the brand’s Champagne bottles today) is known for having revolutionised Champagne production methods that are still in use today. Beyond her skill as a wine maker, Madame Clicquot was an astute and ultimately successful business person in a time when women had few rights to property or business. It was also a time of great upheaval and uncertainty across France and Europe due to the Napoleonic Wars. I think Fripp did a great job of showing readers Nicole Clicquot’s passion and skill for wine making, her love of the vines and vineyards. Fripp also sympathetically portrays the short marriage between Nicole and her husband, François; a man she loved and who continued to influence her even after his death. I enjoyed reading about Nicole’s efforts to improve her product as well as her struggles with competitors during a time of political instability. Fripp has done her best to offer a complete picture, but I felt this attempt is also a weak point in the narrative because Fripp relies on telling versus showing to fit all the information in. Overall, I found Fripp’s writing style easy to read. THE FRENCH HOUSE is her debut novel and I look forward to reading her future work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    Unlike most ladies in nineteenth century France, Nicole was a wild-child tom-boy who refused to marry for society but married François Clicquot for love, and to live her life her own way. Theirs was a love that grew like the vineyards they tended together, but also one fraught with depression and loss, leaving her alone in a world where women were not welcome. The vineyards, terroir and Champagne making process are all easily visualised in this book, along with the French customs of the era. The Unlike most ladies in nineteenth century France, Nicole was a wild-child tom-boy who refused to marry for society but married François Clicquot for love, and to live her life her own way. Theirs was a love that grew like the vineyards they tended together, but also one fraught with depression and loss, leaving her alone in a world where women were not welcome. The vineyards, terroir and Champagne making process are all easily visualised in this book, along with the French customs of the era. There are many who want her to fail, so knowing who to trust and who would sell out to her rivals is never easy, but her stubborn refusal to give in was what drove her on, even in the darkest of days. From dependable Xavier, to all-seeing Natasha, loyal Louis, exotic Thérésa and mysterious Alexei, we get passion, respect and deception, as well as a colourful cast of characters who intrigued and entertained me as we travelled through the French Revolution, 19th century Parisian society and Napoleon’s war with Russia. This imagined story of a real-life remarkable woman is a fascinating read, as fate, mother nature, family feuds and war all have their part to play as the fortunes of Nicole Clicquot and her vineyard, ride high on success one minute and are plunged into disaster the next. I was with her every step of the way, from her most unladylike daring adventures in horse drawn carriages from Reims, to Paris, to Amsterdam, willing her to find the happiness and success that she deserved. Desperately wanting her to gain the respect from the men who were her rivals, and to prove to herself as much as the town’s gossips, that she was right to fight. I don’t know the story behind the widow Clicquot name, although a glass or two of Veuve Clicquot Champagne has passed my lips over the years, but I’d like to think that this book does her, her hard work and extraordinary life justice. The French House is available in ebook and paperback formats and if you enjoy historical fiction, with strong female characters and a fast-moving plot, all washed down with a glass of Champagne, add this book to your 2021 reading list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    There were so many things I loved about this book. Most importantly, I love a story about a badass woman entrepreneur who defies all expectations and makes herself a success, especially one that’s based on true events. The French House follows the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the woman behind the famous Veuve Clicquot champagne. Nicole was going to run the vineyard with her husband, but she’s tragically widowed just years into their marriage. Everyone expected her to give up and sell the vine There were so many things I loved about this book. Most importantly, I love a story about a badass woman entrepreneur who defies all expectations and makes herself a success, especially one that’s based on true events. The French House follows the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the woman behind the famous Veuve Clicquot champagne. Nicole was going to run the vineyard with her husband, but she’s tragically widowed just years into their marriage. Everyone expected her to give up and sell the vineyard (it wasn’t “proper” for women to do business, everyone said), but she refused. Ultimately, she built a champagne empire. Fripp’s writing totally transported me to 1800s France, and I loved how much I learned about the winemaking process throughout. Fripp perfectly captures Nicole’s spunk, spirit, and determination. There are only two very small reasons this isn’t a 5⭐️ read for me. First, there is one relationship of Nicole’s that is central to the book that I was a little disappointed not to find any true evidence of (at least that I could find). I won’t spoil it, and I still loved reading the ins and outs of that relationship, but I was just a little bummed to find out that relationship wasn’t as crucial in the real Nicole’s life. Then second, I definitely grew attached to the title “The Champagne Widow,” which I thought fit the story a little better than “The French House.” But those are two tiny things that don’t take away at all from how amazing this story is. Read this book, and when you’re done, join me in a champagne cheers!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Vincent

    This book was a departure from the books I normally read. I have to say it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story is amazing of a very determined lady making a success in a man's world. Even more inspiring that its based on a true story. One of those books that I couldn't stop thinking about and wanted to savour every chapter to the end. This book was a departure from the books I normally read. I have to say it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story is amazing of a very determined lady making a success in a man's world. Even more inspiring that its based on a true story. One of those books that I couldn't stop thinking about and wanted to savour every chapter to the end.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This book takes place during Napoleon’s conquest of Europe. It follows Nicole and her conquest to make the best champagne. Not only does she have to contend with her husband’s melancholy, a rival’s jealousy but also trying to get her champagne to market. It was an interesting story, Nicole is a strong woman . She has some characters who at times help but also seem to follow their own agenda. I enjoyed the story, learned a few things about champagne along the way. Thanks to Netgalley and the publi This book takes place during Napoleon’s conquest of Europe. It follows Nicole and her conquest to make the best champagne. Not only does she have to contend with her husband’s melancholy, a rival’s jealousy but also trying to get her champagne to market. It was an interesting story, Nicole is a strong woman . She has some characters who at times help but also seem to follow their own agenda. I enjoyed the story, learned a few things about champagne along the way. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the early copy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I’m not really very good at writing reviews but I picked this book up and couldn’t put it down fascinating story

  13. 4 out of 5

    Angela Petch

    “You are not just any woman. You are Nicole Clicquot. The opening paragraph, where a young girl called Nicole is at a cross roads – should she take the shaded alleyway of the “obedient girls” or the “forbidden detour” across the sunny open square? – introduces us to our feisty heroine. Yes, readers: she goes down the more exciting path and continues to do so throughout this beautifully written, fascinating novel. I loved her passionate conviction and her adventures. And to know that they are mostl “You are not just any woman. You are Nicole Clicquot. The opening paragraph, where a young girl called Nicole is at a cross roads – should she take the shaded alleyway of the “obedient girls” or the “forbidden detour” across the sunny open square? – introduces us to our feisty heroine. Yes, readers: she goes down the more exciting path and continues to do so throughout this beautifully written, fascinating novel. I loved her passionate conviction and her adventures. And to know that they are mostly true, makes her story doubly interesting. Politics “happened in Paris, not here in safe sleepy Reims,” Nicole thinks, but life is to become more complicated for our beautiful heroine. Europe is at war and her family’s champagne estates fall into decline. Her hand is sought in marriage by neighbouring competitor, Monsieur Moët, champagne-producing mayor of Reims. It will help the family business, but will it help Nicole’s heart? What will she choose to do? This is not only a coming-of age story. In some ways, it is a novel about feminism in the nineteenth century, in the sense that Nicole is a woman with her own mind who fights, against all odds, to save her vineyards. Despite being born into an affluent world, she is not afraid of dirtying her hands and working day and night amongst the vines. She hates the “tedious parade of husbands, expectations of womanly submissions” and the tight dresses, like “vices”. Men complain about her “talk of independence” but she understands and prefers the world of wine production to the claustrophobic world she is expected to endure. The landscape around Reims comes alive on the pages, combining with the scents, colours, descriptions of wines: “earthy with notes of leather, cherry and mushrooms…; orange peel, wheat. Peach…. Milky toffee, honey, walnut and vanilla…”. We have glimpses of Napoléon, we are entangled with the complicated Thérése Tallien, an exotic creature, who really existed and who pulls many under her spell – including Nicole. I loved her, with her short hair and red ribbon, cut in the coiffure à la victime (the history of the revolution and the guillotine only too fresh in people’s minds). She is a fascinating character and adds a touch of frisson and mystique to the book. “I break my marriage vows now and then, any sensible girl should, but I never break a promise to friends.” We shall see! Mix in other ingredients: a lover, a daughter, a true friend who owns a bakery and has magical powers, the ups and downs of Nicole’s harvests, faithful servants, breath taking journeys to war torn Paris, where Cossacks, Russians, Prussians and British are outside Paris, an impossible, forbidden romance (“in the dark, he made her feel like melted sugar”). Stir it all up with lyrical descriptions and sprinkle it with one woman’s determination and courage to persevere and we have a wonderful result: a slice of history taking us behind the champagne that you and I may have been lucky enough to have tasted. I know that the next time I drink a glass of Veuve Clicquot, it will taste extra special, because of Helen Fripp’s book. Félicitations! I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of The French House and this is my honest review. Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for letting me read it in advance of publication.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joanne D'Arcy

    This is the debut novel from this author and when I picked it up, I knew little of the subject matter and the history of Champagne. And if truth be known I am not a big fan of it - the drink not the book. The book is simply fizzing with romance, intrigue, war, grief and the history of one of the most well know brands known across the globe. Nicole as a young girl liked nothing more than running around the village and knew all the locals to chat to, she became friendly with people below her elevate This is the debut novel from this author and when I picked it up, I knew little of the subject matter and the history of Champagne. And if truth be known I am not a big fan of it - the drink not the book. The book is simply fizzing with romance, intrigue, war, grief and the history of one of the most well know brands known across the globe. Nicole as a young girl liked nothing more than running around the village and knew all the locals to chat to, she became friendly with people below her elevated position and when she finds the man she wants to marry it isn't about what her parents want, it is about what she wants. That is how Nicole finds herself married to Francois Clicquot and wandering through the vineyards they both decide to make this their present and their future. But this idyll is short-lived when bade weather, bitter grapes and poor harvests along with war in far off lands where their product was popular causes problems. Suddenly alone, Nicole finds herself as the Veuve and is determined to make a success - but she has some barriers to face and not just the vineyards, but exploding bottles, gossiping neighbours, close rivals, war and missing salesman. Helen Fripp weaves the Napoleonic Wars of the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century into the story at time as the background to the events of Nicole and the other main characters; Xavier; Louis; Natasha and the enigma that was Teresa who brought a rather different view of how women should behave in these times. At other points the Napoleonic Wars were very much in the foreground and I learnt as I wandered how a war seemingly fought a long way away, came to these remote French villages where there was no desire for war just to live peaceably and with everyone they love. War doesn't make that possible and times there was some horrific scenes which took me right back to these times. Through it all Nicole had a determination not seen by many and should be recognised as a strong woman very much in a man's world who somehow overcame it all and became a force to be reckoned with and recognised. I adored this book, it reminds me of my great love of historical fiction and was an part of history which I knew little about and also even less about the great Champagne houses. How wonderful to discover that a woman was behind one of the greatest much to the chagrin of most. Historical fiction is of course just that but what it does and this book does it in abundance is open your eyes and the world up to reading much more about these fabulous women who have shaped history, who have made an impact and should be recognised much more. It reminded me why I love history.  A great read and I will certainly be looking to learn more from Helen Fripp in the future.

  15. 4 out of 5

    loopyloulaura

    Wealthy but headstrong Nicole marries for love. Her spurned lover becomes her bitter rival and the feud continues after her husband's death. Nicole defies convention to take over the business and founds Veuve Clicquot. Can Nicole and her brand survive personal and political war...? The French House is an historical novel set at the time of the French Revolution and its aftermath. Nicole was a real person and I loved reading about her true history. It was interesting to see how Helen Fripp has fic Wealthy but headstrong Nicole marries for love. Her spurned lover becomes her bitter rival and the feud continues after her husband's death. Nicole defies convention to take over the business and founds Veuve Clicquot. Can Nicole and her brand survive personal and political war...? The French House is an historical novel set at the time of the French Revolution and its aftermath. Nicole was a real person and I loved reading about her true history. It was interesting to see how Helen Fripp has fictionalised the events in her life. This book was originally titled The Champagne Widow and I actually preferred that title as it seemed more evocative. We first meet Nicole as an 11 year old and see her courage. This grows as she becomes an adult and has to face tragic circumstances and financial ruin. The author has taken the facts of Nicole's life to create an uplifting story of a woman's survival in a man's world. Love drives her to achieve but she often has to put her personal happiness aside. I felt frustrated and even a little angry with her husband. His mental fragility and probable suicide have significant consequences for his wife so his selfishness endeared me to Nicole even more. The other characters in the book take friendship and enmity to extremes. Some characters support Nicole but also betray her trust, yet the strength of her friendship overcomes their actions. Others are staunchly loyal throughout, inspired by Nicole to hope. Her antagonistic relationship with Moet reverberates across the years, from her refusal to marry him, to her business success. The French House is full of vivid descriptions of the Champagne region. The taste of the Champagne is synonymous with the grapes and their growing environment which the author conveys with her rich imagery. I thoroughly enjoyed The French House, the strong female lead, the burgeoning feminism and history of France, and the gripping plot.

  16. 4 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Helen Fripp, in ‘The Champagne Widow,’ expertly unveils the incredible true story of Veuve Clicquot, a young widow who single-handedly built a struggling vineyard into one of the world’s greatest champagne houses. Fripp's prose instantly and completely immersed me in a beautiful romance, heartbreak and the passion of Madame Clicquot. The author’s ability to whisk me away to the vineyards of post-Revolutionary France and bring to life a feisty, determined heroine who blazed her own path in a man’ Helen Fripp, in ‘The Champagne Widow,’ expertly unveils the incredible true story of Veuve Clicquot, a young widow who single-handedly built a struggling vineyard into one of the world’s greatest champagne houses. Fripp's prose instantly and completely immersed me in a beautiful romance, heartbreak and the passion of Madame Clicquot. The author’s ability to whisk me away to the vineyards of post-Revolutionary France and bring to life a feisty, determined heroine who blazed her own path in a man’s world is extraordinary. You’ll love how she brings Reims and the French countryside to life with her attention to detail and her descriptive writing. Furthermore, you’ll find yourself completely invested in the characters. Fripp has crafted each one uniquely; you’ll love the men who are besotted with Nicole, you’ll love to hate the best friend who uses Nicole as well as her biggest competition and the man she almost married, Monsieur Moët. Considering the insurmountable odds against this aristocratic young woman, it’s amazing that her vision and determination continued to fuel her passion for success. If you love well-written historical fiction, are passionate about bubbly or if you want to learn more about the champagne process and Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, this is worth keeping on your radar - publication is March 4, 2021. Helen Fripp’s next novel will be set in 19th century Paris and revolves around a determined young woman from the slums becoming part of the beguiling world of the new Impressionist painters. Fripp writes historical fiction that focusses on women in the past who have achieved greatness against the odds. Thank you to Helen Fripp, Bookouture and NetGalley for the five-star advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Reims, France - 1789 Nicole Ponsardin is seeing the pitiful offerings at the market and how results of the Revolution have spread from Paris to Reims. Crops are dying in the fields, buildings are crumbling. Aristocrats are eating well while workers starve. Now, the workers are planning to gather up the aristocrats and cut off their heads via the guillotine. An altercation breaks out between the starving locals and a rich Comte, resulting in the death of the husband of Nicole’s friend, Natasha. Th Reims, France - 1789 Nicole Ponsardin is seeing the pitiful offerings at the market and how results of the Revolution have spread from Paris to Reims. Crops are dying in the fields, buildings are crumbling. Aristocrats are eating well while workers starve. Now, the workers are planning to gather up the aristocrats and cut off their heads via the guillotine. An altercation breaks out between the starving locals and a rich Comte, resulting in the death of the husband of Nicole’s friend, Natasha. That’s when Nicole swears to build her own wealth and power using it for good. Eight years later Europe is at war and the young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, is leading the troops. Monsieur Moet, owner of a vineyard, wants to marry Nicole, but she refuses. Her father has made a fortune from his vineyards and Nicole secretly reads all of his vineyard manuals. When Nicole meets Francois Clicquot, owner of a vineyard making champagne, they soon marry and Nicole has a little girl. When Francois dies, Nicole is determined to carry on his legacy against all odds, and there are many. This book shows the determination of a woman to succeed at the top of the wine making game despite all of the many people who triy to stop her. We see how many people suffered from the war, yet we also see how people refused to give up. It was a very difficult time period, but is one reason, I think, that the French are as tough as they are. Having lived in France for quite a number of years, I saw proof of this determination passed down from generations of tough French people. A very good depiction of this time period. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Corinne Rodrigues

    This book transported me to another world and I was completely taken up with a heroine who really plunges into everything with a feistiness that is so admirable. Set in post-Revolutionary France, the book opens with a high spirit young Nicole who witnesses the slaughter of local townsmen at the hands of an aristocrat and his men. Coming from privileged background herself, Nicole cannot stomach this injustice and vows to put an end to it. As she grows up, she breaks off the man her family arranges This book transported me to another world and I was completely taken up with a heroine who really plunges into everything with a feistiness that is so admirable. Set in post-Revolutionary France, the book opens with a high spirit young Nicole who witnesses the slaughter of local townsmen at the hands of an aristocrat and his men. Coming from privileged background herself, Nicole cannot stomach this injustice and vows to put an end to it. As she grows up, she breaks off the man her family arranges for her to marry, and marries Francois, who teaches her to fall in love with the whole process of wine making. But Francois is a troubled soul and Nicole is often left to manage the vineyards on her own, despite all opposition to a woman doing so. When she is widowed, she is determined to make a success and fulfill Francois’ dream for their success. The author takes us on a fascinating journey as Nicole fights against society, has her heart broken and is drawn into the intriguing politics of that time as she tries to market her wines. As the heroine grows into a shrewd business woman and someone who patents a way to preserve wines, the reader is also privy to her vulnerability, business failures, heartbreak, her longing for love and her passion for the land, the vines and the wine making process. There are other fascinating characters in the book too – Louis, Theresa, Natasha and even Moet – who in their own way support Nicole and yet their own flaws and weakness let her down too. I found it difficult to put the book down! Will be looking forward to more books from this author. A great historical, woman-centric book, this seemed such a fitting read for this Women’s History Month.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Poonguzhahli A

    The champagne widow is a historical fiction based in Paris and Champagne during the French Revolution and the Napoleon War of the late 17th century. The story follows the real life of winemaker Nicole Clicquot. As stated by the author, it is a mixture of facts and fiction. This is the first book of this genre I have ever read. So, going into it I was not sure how much I will enjoy this book. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the beginning, the book managed to hold my attention comp The champagne widow is a historical fiction based in Paris and Champagne during the French Revolution and the Napoleon War of the late 17th century. The story follows the real life of winemaker Nicole Clicquot. As stated by the author, it is a mixture of facts and fiction. This is the first book of this genre I have ever read. So, going into it I was not sure how much I will enjoy this book. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the beginning, the book managed to hold my attention completely. The characters were varied and every one of them were relatable, real and flawed. But the character who I absolutely adored was Nicole. She was way ahead of her times, managing to make a place for herself in what is, still predominantly, a man's world. The author has managed to recreate the world then, to a great extent. The narration was crisp but still emotionality evocative at the same time. The pace did seem slightly slow at places, but I guess it is understandable considering that the author has crammed a lot of years within 288 pages. As a result, we end up feeling we have read a lot, when in reality it's not so much the length but the content. Overall, the book managed to transport me to 1790-1800s and also in such a way that I am totally rooting for Nicole. I definitely recommend this book for any person who want to come out of reading a book feeling inspired. I would also like to thank the author and Netgalley for this ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tanya E

    I know little about The French Revolution as I was never really a history buff. I know even less about Champagne or how it is made. So this book is probably an odd one for me to choose, but one of my goals for 2021 is to reach into genres that I normally wouldn’t read. The cover was so gorgeous that I felt compelled to raise my hand when the blog tour offer came in. I’m so glad that I did! This historical fiction centers around Nicole Clicquot, the Widow of Reims, the real-life owner of Veuve Cli I know little about The French Revolution as I was never really a history buff. I know even less about Champagne or how it is made. So this book is probably an odd one for me to choose, but one of my goals for 2021 is to reach into genres that I normally wouldn’t read. The cover was so gorgeous that I felt compelled to raise my hand when the blog tour offer came in. I’m so glad that I did! This historical fiction centers around Nicole Clicquot, the Widow of Reims, the real-life owner of Veuve Clicquot, the world’s most popular Champagne house in the early 1800’s. The tale covers her struggles to keep her Champagne line afloat after the loss of her husband. Facing both challenges abroad (no export options during the war) and at home (enemies, weather and so much more) Nicole braves it all for her daughter and the memory of her beloved husband. The story has so many wonderfully beautiful moments. The setting, the friendships, the courage of a woman and the beautiful writing made this a pleasurable read. There were a few slow spots throughout the story and overall, the book can feel a bit depressing as Nicole faces continued challenges, one after another. It’s best to be prepared as this is not a happy or joyful book. But I learned so much about this trailblazing woman that it made it all worthwhile.

  21. 4 out of 5

    N.J. Mastro

    The French House is my favorite kind of historical fiction - an account of a real woman who defied the norms of her day and went on to become a powerhouse. In this case, it is Barb-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot - a.k.a. The Widow Clicquot, the force behind Veuve Clicquot, one of the world's most popular champagnes for over 200 years. Nicole is a woman I have long admired, so when I discovered Helen Fripp's book, I bought it immediately. I couldn't put it down. Fripp blends real and fictional charact The French House is my favorite kind of historical fiction - an account of a real woman who defied the norms of her day and went on to become a powerhouse. In this case, it is Barb-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot - a.k.a. The Widow Clicquot, the force behind Veuve Clicquot, one of the world's most popular champagnes for over 200 years. Nicole is a woman I have long admired, so when I discovered Helen Fripp's book, I bought it immediately. I couldn't put it down. Fripp blends real and fictional characters into her tale of Nicole's entry into womanhood during the French Revolution. Feisty Nicole marries the love of her life, and the couple dreams of making the perfect champagne. Of course, obstacles are in their way, which makes the true and fictional story so compelling. No spoilers here. You will want to read this novel for yourself even if you know Nicole's story. But I will say Fripp's descriptions of wine, the region, and the vineyards themselves add stunning sensory texture to this novel. She has also masterfully woven in just the right amount of history to make the story authentic, but not bog down the prose. I highly recommend this book. I loved, loved, loved it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    J_Mc 251

    Filled with lush descriptions, memorable characters, and vivid events, this historical fiction novel about the world-renowned vineyards of France is not to be missed. You don’t have to be a wine aficionado to understand the nuances of the plot. Set in the late-1700s to 1800s, the story follows Nicole, the headstrong daughter of a vineyard owner in Reims, France. It’s not a spoiler to reveal that she becomes (shall we say) extremely involved in the wine-making process. From the very beginning in Filled with lush descriptions, memorable characters, and vivid events, this historical fiction novel about the world-renowned vineyards of France is not to be missed. You don’t have to be a wine aficionado to understand the nuances of the plot. Set in the late-1700s to 1800s, the story follows Nicole, the headstrong daughter of a vineyard owner in Reims, France. It’s not a spoiler to reveal that she becomes (shall we say) extremely involved in the wine-making process. From the very beginning in the prologue, the author does a fantastic job of melding fictional and non-fictional events and characters into a seamless, compelling, and emotional narrative. I liked the message of resilience that was woven through the story. The author’s research was informative, and her writing talent made the vineyards of France come alive. For a full review, please visit Fireflies and Free Kicks. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a digital ARC of the book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle D

    The famous vintner Nicole "Veuve Clicquot" is an excellent main character for a historical novel. No matter your level of interest in wines (I don't even drink any alcohol at all), the tale of her eventful life is really worth reading. The novel starts in 1789, when Nicole was 11, and skips years between chapters to show us other key moments of her youth. Then, by the time she's become the widow that gives her name to the reknown champagne, the reader can only feel heartbroken for her loss and a The famous vintner Nicole "Veuve Clicquot" is an excellent main character for a historical novel. No matter your level of interest in wines (I don't even drink any alcohol at all), the tale of her eventful life is really worth reading. The novel starts in 1789, when Nicole was 11, and skips years between chapters to show us other key moments of her youth. Then, by the time she's become the widow that gives her name to the reknown champagne, the reader can only feel heartbroken for her loss and anxious to see how she'll manage the vineyards by herself, surrounded by male vintners trying to discourage her, with other town people spreading rumours, and in the middle of the Napoleonic wars to top it all off. I greatly enjoyed following that bumpy journey to a well-deserved success. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Glass

    Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.  This historical story about the woman behind one of the world's most famous champagne producers hits all the right notes. The writing style is not clunky or overly modern, but also accessible, Nicole is a feisty and likeable (though flawed) heroine, and there are plenty of twists and turns to her story. I didn't know anything about how Veuve Clicquot got its name so it was fascinating to read this story of an unusual time and an Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.  This historical story about the woman behind one of the world's most famous champagne producers hits all the right notes. The writing style is not clunky or overly modern, but also accessible, Nicole is a feisty and likeable (though flawed) heroine, and there are plenty of twists and turns to her story. I didn't know anything about how Veuve Clicquot got its name so it was fascinating to read this story of an unusual time and an unusual woman. The book seemed well researched to me (although I don't know much about wine production!) and there were no jarring notes in the historical setting to pull me out of the story. The French was also appropriate and accurate, which was a huge plus for me as a francophone. A great escapist historical novel of good quality! 

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Wisniewski

    The story of the life of Nicole Clicquot and her struggles to make and sell her champagne during the French Revolution and early 1800s just draws the reader into a whole different world. She refused to marry Moët,her parents choice and instead marries for love. They have one daughter and she stays by her husband’s side and learns all about making champagne, a bonus for the reader. When she becomes a young widow she could have sold out and lived a comfortable life but instead she decides to keep The story of the life of Nicole Clicquot and her struggles to make and sell her champagne during the French Revolution and early 1800s just draws the reader into a whole different world. She refused to marry Moët,her parents choice and instead marries for love. They have one daughter and she stays by her husband’s side and learns all about making champagne, a bonus for the reader. When she becomes a young widow she could have sold out and lived a comfortable life but instead she decides to keep her husband’s memory alive with their champagne brand and struggles in a world dominated by men. When I read this I enjoyed learning about this strong woman, her life, her loves, her ingenuity and how she made and sold champagne. This is an intwined with the history of the time. I love historical fiction books and this is one of the best!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Helen Gauthier

    Fascinating book about a strong French woman Barb Nicole Clicquot and her struggle to make her champagne vineyard profitable. She had to stand up to Möet, another champagne producer, and to the superstitions and morés of the town of Reims who didn't want a woman-run company to succeed. She endured many trials, and kept persevering; she refused to give up. I actually googled Veuve Clicquot to read up on the actual company, because I found it so interesting. She had been mentioned in another book o Fascinating book about a strong French woman Barb Nicole Clicquot and her struggle to make her champagne vineyard profitable. She had to stand up to Möet, another champagne producer, and to the superstitions and morés of the town of Reims who didn't want a woman-run company to succeed. She endured many trials, and kept persevering; she refused to give up. I actually googled Veuve Clicquot to read up on the actual company, because I found it so interesting. She had been mentioned in another book or two I had read about WWI, which was after her time, but her wine caves were used as bomb shelters during the war. I found this book a real page turner and enjoyed her story. Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC of this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tissie

    Hey mama, look at me, I’m on the way to the promise land (AC/DC) --or at least, I’m on a very lucky streak :D last month Edelweiss gave me The Wasteland and now Netgalley is trying to one-up on it with The Champagne Widow by H. Fripp. First thing first, the cover. Isn’t it a thing of beauty? It caught my attention right away : a pretty drawing, colorful without being too in-your-face, it told me all I needed to know about TCW at a glance. Perfect. I really want to stop for a moment here and compli Hey mama, look at me, I’m on the way to the promise land (AC/DC) --or at least, I’m on a very lucky streak :D last month Edelweiss gave me The Wasteland and now Netgalley is trying to one-up on it with The Champagne Widow by H. Fripp. First thing first, the cover. Isn’t it a thing of beauty? It caught my attention right away : a pretty drawing, colorful without being too in-your-face, it told me all I needed to know about TCW at a glance. Perfect. I really want to stop for a moment here and compliment the artist who drew it: it’s very cool, I love it! Now, the story itself. [Keep reading @ Bookshelves & Teacups]

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    What a treat to learn more about Nicole Clicquot. the woman responsible for my favorite champagne! A mix of fact and fiction, this tracks her life from the age of 11 in 1789 until 1825. Oh the history of the time and the political and social upheaval! Clicquot, however, was a focused businesswoman as well as a woman who sought love with difficult men. She stood up for herself and for her vineyard. Fripp brings the Reims region to life along with her characters (I found myself checking to see who What a treat to learn more about Nicole Clicquot. the woman responsible for my favorite champagne! A mix of fact and fiction, this tracks her life from the age of 11 in 1789 until 1825. Oh the history of the time and the political and social upheaval! Clicquot, however, was a focused businesswoman as well as a woman who sought love with difficult men. She stood up for herself and for her vineyard. Fripp brings the Reims region to life along with her characters (I found myself checking to see who was real as a read). Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. This is emotional and Fripp clearly felt affection for Clicqot. An excellent read for fans of historical fiction.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I have heard of the champagne Veuve Clicquot, but did not know anything about the fascinating history behind its creation. Nicole marries Francois Clicquot, and even though she is a from a wealthy family, dedicates herself to the success of the vineyards. The book starts in 1789 France in the midst of the Napoleonic era and its endless wars. In a time that women were expected to stay at home and raise families, Nicole becomes a master vintner, in constant battle with Jean-Remy Moët for prominenc I have heard of the champagne Veuve Clicquot, but did not know anything about the fascinating history behind its creation. Nicole marries Francois Clicquot, and even though she is a from a wealthy family, dedicates herself to the success of the vineyards. The book starts in 1789 France in the midst of the Napoleonic era and its endless wars. In a time that women were expected to stay at home and raise families, Nicole becomes a master vintner, in constant battle with Jean-Remy Moët for prominence in the champagne world. Well written and recommended for an absorbing story. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gurinder Abrol

    A gripping book. A book worth a read especially if you are interested into war time books. Nicole struggles in running her vineyard after her husband dies. She is determined to succeed to produce the best wine and champagne in France which she does. She has a group of friends who help her all the way with lots of ups and downs on the way. The war time caused a lot of blockages on the boarders to and from Russia. With a great struggle Nicole still got her wine to its destination. In the end, Nicole A gripping book. A book worth a read especially if you are interested into war time books. Nicole struggles in running her vineyard after her husband dies. She is determined to succeed to produce the best wine and champagne in France which she does. She has a group of friends who help her all the way with lots of ups and downs on the way. The war time caused a lot of blockages on the boarders to and from Russia. With a great struggle Nicole still got her wine to its destination. In the end, Nicole is able to get her champagne to her suppliers in Russia with success. A very successful woman in wine dealing woman of the area. A very happy ending for both Nicole and her daughter

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