The subject (the life of the widow Clicquot, famous Champagne entepreuneur) is interesting and the english quite easy to understand even for a non native speaker. In particular, the part regarding the hard times widow Clicquot faces during the Napoleonic Empire catches the reader attention and makes him genuinely wonder how she is going to resolve the situation.
Unkuckily there is one fatal flaw in this book: it is a matter of fact that not much has remained to the present to understand the private life and thoughts of this woman and most of the letters we have refer to the central years of her life.
The author tries to compensate for this lacking of material by “imagining” what a woman like Barbe-Nicole Clicquot could have felt and thought, basing her assumption on nothing. This way she ends writing a “docudrama”, a book which is nor fiction, neither an objective documentary. For this reason, especially in the first half, writing style can be very annoying: the author keeps reminding us that she doesn't know what her protagonist was thinking but nonetheless she wants to try guessing it. The words “perhaps”, “must” and “surely” keep coming again and again and again. "Perhaps Barbe-Nicole thought this" "Perhaps she thought that" "Surely she must have heard of X" "Surely she imagined that".
In the second part, thanks to a broader availability of original documents the rythm slightly improves, but many people will probably give up before reaching that point....Continua