‘Plum Wine’

You may not have heard of the 2006 title Plum Wine, but many people in North Carolina have, because of one enthusiastic bookseller.  The book might have been lucky to sell out its 1,000 copy print run, says the author Angela Davis-Gardner. Instead, it went through seven printings, selling a total of 57,000, thanks to the efforts of Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Book in Raleigh, N.C., as reported in a story in the Charlotte News & Observer.

This is the kind of story that makes my day (one of the many reasons to read Shelf Awareness, which features it today). To make it even better, an anonymous librarian also plays a role in the story. When author Davis-Gardner was unsuccessfully trying to sell the book, she left part of the manuscript on an airplane. The librarian found it and wrote to Davis-Gardner to tell her how much she liked it. This ray of hope gave the author the needed inspiration to renew her efforts to get it published.

As a result of this success, Plum Wine, originally published by the U. of Wisconsin Press, was picked up for publication in trade paperback by the Dial Press (a division of Random House). Davis-Gardner now has a contract for her next book and can finally take the time off to write it.

The book, as described by the Charlotte News & Observer, sounds like a perfect book club selection (in fact, Cuyahoga County has included it in its collection of bookable discussion sets);

[the book] focuses on an American woman, Barbara Jefferson, living in Tokyo in the 1960s. Jefferson’s surrogate mother Michi dies, leaving her a collection of plum wine bottles wrapped in rice paper covered with calligraphy that details Michi’s life from the early 20th century through World War II. Barbara works with a translator to unravel the plum wine writings, and so reveal a story of human relationships and the horrors of war.

It was starred in PW and reviewed in the Baltimore Sun and the Charlotte Observer (of course).

Plum Wine

Angela Davis-Gardner

  • Paperback: $13.00; 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (March 27, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0385340834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385340830

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