I’ve read all the quotes about reading being the portal to travel without leaving your chair. True, sort of (I can’t get a tan on the beach with a book, although I can relive the sensation). But I like an author that can do more with less.
I like an author that can make me want to move to a place I’ve never even considered desirable.
I like an author that can make dirt clods and tumbleweeds seem beautiful. I like an author that can show me the beauty in a humid, bug-filled locale.
And I love imagining living in those places.
I grew up in a place I loved, not far from some of the most sought after vacation spots. I grew up in Northeastern Colorado, on plains that are more like Nebraska or Kansas. The only real difference is the view: the Rocky Mountains can be seen from Northern Colorado on most days. The foothills were only an hour away.
I loved the plains of my youth, knowing the plight of the farmers and ranchers around me. I knew that a lot of our lives came from those slightly distant mountains and the snow that fell there. In more ways than one. We owned a sporting goods store, so we loved the snow for skiing and the sales and rentals that a good snow could bring. Others around me, farm and ranch kids, needed the water. Eastern Colorado doesn’t get a lot of water, and Northern Colorado is run by water rights: the rights to the runoff water from the mountains into rivers and streams.
I saw the beauty in the dirt and the water; I saw the distant snow, or lack thereof, as more than skiing. I saw it as lifeblood for those around me.
I also lived in a town that, when I was young, was surrounded by feedlots, and, then and now, housed a large meatpacking plant. My town got a bad rap because of the smells these two things created, but I saw the beauty in that town. History. I saw the way Greeley, Colorado was created and grew; streets one way, avenues another, all on a grid. I saw the wonder of parks every few blocks, as was the city charter, although I didn’t realize this was odd until I moved away. I marveled at all our large trees, especially the cottonwoods, and I marveled more when I realized that most of those trees were planted in Greeley, that they weren’t indigenous.
I understand the love of a non-glamorous locale. I get it. And maybe that’s why I fall in love easily with these places, especially when it’s obvious the author knows that place and loves it.
Inland California, swampy Louisiana, the flat, dry plains of Texas. If an author can describe the beauty of the land, I fall in love with it.
And I fall in love with the author a bit, too.
And now, a book that made me fall in love with Fresno, California: Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor.
I got to read Katherine Taylor’s Valley Fever in advance. The book will be released on June 9th, 2015, and is available for pre-order.
Wine, food, drinks, and grapes. And a locale I never knew I loved. Katherine Taylor’s Valley Fever has it all.
Ingrid Palamede, Inky to family and friends, has lived all over the world in an attempt to find her place. After her rich, connected boyfriend breaks up with her, she decides to go to the one place where she is comfortable: home.
Home is Fresno, California. Home is a large farm in this farming community. Inky’s father is magic with the land, understanding plants better than people. The farm once grew peaches, now it is all grapes. Table grapes, juice grapes, and mass amounts of cheap-wine grapes. And, on the Palamede farm, some beautiful, wonderful Cabernet grapes.
When her father gets sick, Inky must step in and try to get the farm going right. With broken friendships fixed, and old friendships broken, Inky learns a lot about farming and even more about herself. But will it be enough to save the farm?
I started this one unsure of what I would think. I grew up around farmers and ranchers, and I know the draw of the land. Who knew I would fall so totally in love with Fresno?!
The characters are wonderfully developed, and I really felt connected to Inky. Her search for herself in the place she fled really hit home.
Taylor’s descriptions of Fresno and land are earthy and real. She evokes a beauty in grapevines and peach trees, and her fruit descriptions made me want a juicy peach or apricot. Grape pie? I need it. Chilled vodka over chilled grapes? Soon.
Valley Fever surprised me, and I love that! This one would be fun for book clubs and reading groups. I envision a get-together where everyone makes one dish from the book, or one drink.
I give this one four stars. Loved it!