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on October 26, 2014
"This is the heart of Barbe-Nicole's story. A woman who lived with audacity and intelligence, who could look forward to the future and grasp the reins of her own destiny at a moment in her life when the natural thing to do would have been to retreat into grief and misery and a paralysis of inaction"- p 181

This is the story of a woman whose life spanned almost four revolutions in France over her 91 years. Barbe-Nicole Cliquot Ponsardin aka "The Widow Cliquot" bucked every expectation of a woman of her time (1777-1866) and became a wealthy entrepreneur in a world where women married well and retreated from society Widowed at 27, she found a head for business and with the power as a widow, built the empire of Cliquot and changed the world of wine, riding the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, marketing and labels, riddling racks to clear wine, copyrighting, blockade running...an adventurous life for a woman alone with children to raise. By the time of her death she had long outlived almost her whole family and left the most prominent Champagne Houses on earth
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on January 1, 2017
A must read for anyone that enjoys champagne. Not only does it tell the story of a woman struggling to run a business in a time of war when women were often treated like chattel. My favorite vignette was about when after trying to ship her champagne west and then east during the Napoleonic Wars her efforts to hide her wine behind walls when the Russian Calvary arrived at her chateau shouting for more champagne before they rode off to battle. A good read.
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VINE VOICEon November 9, 2014
This book is about the life of the Clicquot widow who created a champagne empire after her husband passed away. There are too many distractions away from the main theme, by having detailed background of the political goings on in France, its rivalry with England, and the political maneuverings taking place. In my opinion, the book could have been cut in half by not including so much political information, and just telling the story of the widow and how she came to be, for some time, the number one champagne producer and exporter in France. Ancillary information about France's politics just drags the book, and often put me to sleep.
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on April 7, 2017
The author takes pains to point out how barren the historical materials were in trying to recreate the life of the grand dame of champagne. To compensate she immersed herself in what was available, actual account books, family letters, news accounts, portraits of the family, etc. She, apparently, spent much time in the same French areas that the Clicquots family occupied and put herself in The Widows shoes to imagine what motivations must have driven her entrepreneurial instincts. The Widow comes alive in the book.
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on November 9, 2012
This was selected for a book group read and we even had the gorgeous wine over lunch. I really enjoyed reading the History of this Champaign and of Champaign in general, and it had lots of great little tit bits and was generally an easy book to read and It was well written. I did expect a bit more information about the Widow as she was the title, I love books about interesting women, obviously there was little real information available about her. I felt the book was interesting and informative but was not great, especially if you considered you were reading a biography. I liked it and would give it a 3.5 if I could.
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on July 21, 2017
Fascinating chronicle of the life of the Widow Clicquot, who ran the family champagne business after her husband died. This was unheard of a few hundred years ago! I learned a great deal about the making of champagne, plus the strength of the brand. Enjoyed a bottle of the Widow after I finished the book, excellent combination.
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on January 12, 2018
I watched Professor Mazzeo's video course on writing creative non-fiction, offered through The Great Courses, and she mentions the book many times. I read both for the story and to see how she handled the challenges inherent in writing such a book. I was thoroughly delighted. This is a fun story that will enhance your knowledge of wine, France and the 19th Century business world.
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on January 3, 2018
Learned a lot about the famous Clicquot champagne along with some of the others we have all heard about and drank.
And To find out it was basically started by a woman was very inspiring. Its a good book to read along side another and bounce back and forth unless you are a total history buff.
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on December 22, 2017
What an amazing story, both as a biography of Mme Clicquot herself and the history of the French champagne industry. Obviously meticulously researched, with multiple historical references provided, interesting in themselves. To top it all, the story reads so well, a tribute to the author.
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on August 2, 2014
Interesting read on the history of champagne. I craved champagne while reading. The book is a slow read and could have conveyed the story just as well if it was a bit more concise. It tended to drag on. I don't know if this was a flaw om my kindle or a problem with the book but my percent complete number was 'off'. When I finished the book, (even after the afterward and acknowledgments) it said I was only at 63% complete. This drives me crazy as the book already seemed too long and when I was reading, I kept thinking that I could not imagine how the author could drag the book out for that much longer. This was a book club pick so we drank champagne during or meeting this month instead of wine, which made for a fun evening.
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