It is, unfortunately, not a favorite for me.
This genre, summery novels of self-discovery and idyllic locations, have always been hit or miss with me.
This book is a miss, although it was just interesting enough that I finished it.
Set in Sonoma, California wine country, wine is absolutely the point around which all things in the story revolve. It is why Linda and Everett are married, it is the thing they and their fathers did with their lives, it is what Hannah likes to drink with every meal, it is… everything.
If you like wine, this could be the book for you.
Not tying it entirely to wine, of course, the other unifying point around which things seem to revolve is a bit of what could be called Rich People Problems.
Hannah, newly graduated from business school at Berkeley and about to take a six-figure salary for a starting job at Goldman Sachs in New York, spends much of the book bemoaning her poor Iowa upbringing while contrasting it to an internship at Tiffany’s in New York all while somehow amassing the ability to give up said job for an $800 a week gig as… helper of sorts at a struggling winery in Sonoma. I mean, it helps that the winery job comes with a cottage to live in (and all the wine she can drink!), but I didn’t find her relatable enough to be likable.
It was hard to care if she chose Ethan, the super-rich Park Avenue boy who decides to slum it, as it were, and found a start-up app company because his buddies at Google want new jobs, or William, the son of the winery owners, who she manages to fall head-over-heels in lust/love with after a grand total of maybe three meetings. To Parker’s credit as an author of this sort of book, Hannah chooses neither – and that is why this book got bumped to two stars for me.
But Hannah’s unrelatable and kind of a brat, Ethan is mildly abusive to Hannah, Linda and Everett have a twisted, toxic relationship built on a modern day arranged marriage, and… there just wasn’t much here for me.
I think maybe I finished the book because it is a very fast read, the downside of that being that all of this, all of these life-changing decisions occur over the course of a summer, but really a couple weeks. Marriages break and are rebuilt, a massive heart attack is fully recovered from, a former farm girl marches in and takes over a century and a half old winery with permission from the supposedly very invested owners, affairs are had, a For Rent sign turns into a successful AirBnB B&B and… it’s just too much.
Maybe not for you. Try it if you like this sort of thing. It has it’s good points.
(I received a copy of The Shortest Way Home from NetGalley and Dutton in exchange for an honest and original review. All thoughts are my own.)