The Widow Clicquot – A Book Review


The Widow Clicquot

 

 

Megan Dalla-Camina, the fabulous Australian author, coach and speaker, regularly references the concept of ‘following breadcrumbs’. 

The idea is that you pay attention to the things that spike your curiosity and simply see where they lead you. Megan suggests that utilising this strategy is one way to find your life’s purpose.

I’ve found that it is also an excellent way to discover new books. 

I know. I know. Not exactly deep – and certainly not ‘a find your life’s purpose’ kind of outcome. 

But effective just the same. And I recently had a very entertaining time following some breadcrumbs. 

It all started with our high tea experience at the Ritz Paris. That led me to read Luke Barr’s book Ritz And Escoffier. Wanting to continue my exploration of the history of the Ritz Paris, I decided to read The Hotel on Place Vendôme by Tilar J. Mazzeo. And then I followed the next breadcrumb and picked up The Widow Clicquot which was also written by Mazzeo. 

I’d been wanting to read The Widow Clicquot ever since our visit to Veuve Clicquot in Reims back in 2015 but had simply never got around to it. Now I wish I’d read it before we visited the famed champagne house. 

The Widow Clicquot has something for anyone who happens to love France, Champagne, history or gender studies. And if you happen to enjoy all four, then this is likely to be a book you simply can’t put down.

Title: The Widow Clicquot. The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

Author: Tilar J. Mazzeo

Published: 2008 by HarperCollins e-books. 

What I Liked

The Widow

If Mazzeo’s account is anything to go by, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin was an amazingly resilient and inspirational woman. And having had the experience of visiting the Veuve Clicquot House in Reims and listening to the way she was also described there, I have no reason to believe that Mazzeo is overplaying the talents of Barbe-Nicole. Yes, she had luck and the occasional wealthy backer, but she also dealt with tragedy too. It seems to me that she provides an excellent example of what can be achieved if you combine intelligence, hard work and perseverance. 

The Writing

I’ve read all of Mazzeo’s major works now and I absolutely love her writing style. She brings history to life in such an entertaining way. If only my high school text books had provided as much entertainment….

The Research

In a world of short attention spans, it is clear that a lot of work has gone into discovering the story of the widow. I love the way Mazzeo shares facts – I never feel like I’m either overwhelmed or bored.

The Cover Artwork

I actually quite like all of the covers of Mazzeo’s books. But this one is particularly clever. Employing the yellow of the Veuve Clicquot branding, elements from the famous label and capturing a picture of the widow herself in the shape of a champagne bottle, the whole thing is topped off with bubbles. I really appreciate the creativity that has gone into this cover. 

What I Wasn’t So Sure About

The Gaps

While I’m grateful for the Mazzeo’s research, it’s unfortunate that there are relatively few records remaining that detail the life (and likeness) of the amazing French female entrepreneur. This left parts of the widow’s life where Mazzeo was forced to imagine what Barbe-Nicole might have been thinking. This in no way detracts from the narrative, but it did leave me thinking about the other things that Barbe-Nicole might have considered, rather than simply believing that Mazzeo had guessed correctly.

I know I’m late to this party, but have you read The Widow Clicquot? Were you a fan? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

 

Please note: This is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from Tilar J. Mazzeo, Luke Barr or the associated publishers of the books named in this piece.


About Janelle

I believe that every woman can bring French style and joie de vivre to her life, no matter where she happens to live in the world. She only needs to know a secret or two to be on her way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll learn the style and grooming secrets that will help you to dress with the confidence so many French women seem to have.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “The Widow Clicquot – A Book Review

    • Janelle Post author

      So lovely to hear from you Judy. I hope things are fabulous in your world. Yes, Tilar is a wonderful author – I’m particularly drawn in by the luxury angle….I’ve now read all of her work and I’ve loved them all. Can you believe I’d had the Chanel No. 5 book sitting in my bookshelf for years and that I’d never read it??? No, I can’t either! Some perfume lover I am! Xxx

  • Ann Y.

    Thank you, Janelle….going to Paris for a few days in November before embarking on a river cruise. Always love to read about where I am going…this book will be on my list! Tea at The Ritz…..that sounds like a breadcrumb I am going to have to follow. Thanks for your great posts – have a great week!