The Widow Clicquot

Last night I went to a captivating reading at the American Library here in Paris.

Tilar J. Mazzeo was presenting her New York Times Bestseller The Widow Clicquot. Many of us know of “Veuve Clicquot” champagne, but we don’t know anything about the woman behind the name. I have to admit that I had once wondered about it – why “widow”? I casually assumed it was just an alluring name, or maybe reference to someone’s elderly aunt. I was fascinated to learn that Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin was not only a real person, but quite a legend.

Mazzeo’s eyes lit up as she shared the intriguing story with us: an early 19th-century widow succeeded in turning a failing wine business into a flourishing, international champagne enterprise. Since the author was “trained in archival research” (as she put it), the non-fiction book relies purely on the historical facts she was able to hunt down. Just as impressive as the widow’s story, is the historical context it takes place in. I left  the library feeling happy and bubbly. Yes, the glass of champagne would explain part, but Mazzeo’s talk explains the rest. Her enthusiasm toward the subject and the fact that she shared both the Widow Clicquot’s story as well as her own (how she first got interested in wine, how she got the idea to write this book, how she went about researching it…) left the audience wanting more.

Of course I picked up a copy and am already reading.

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