This powerful family saga in California’s storied Santa Clara valley (now known as Silicon valley) deals with the era of prohibition in the USA and how the population behaved when legal alcohol sale was prohibited.
The author, an excellent writer and associate professor of creative writing, researched the period, people of the time in the area, how they thought, behaved and worked.
He tells the story of a French viticulturist and how he managed morally fraudulently to become the owner of a large and fine vineyard by marrying the daughter of the previous deed holder.
When his wife died in despair after bearing a child, he simply took possession of the property. Gill, the son, was taught the basics of grape growing and wine making by his father. However, as soon as Gill started suspecting of his father’s fraudulent acquisition of the property he decided to join the army. The US government had by then legislated conscription.
While in the army, and accident disfigured his face, and after his service was terminated he worked with a bootlegger distilling hooch. During a delivery, Gill and his companion were caught and convicted.
After his time in correctional facilities, Gill was forced to sustain himself by picking fruit in various orchards.
With the promise of a small fortune the local automobile dealer convinced Gill to rob his father’s winery. The narrative goes on to show how such robberies can turn out, describing in minute detail how the attempt enfolded, and the tragic end.
This novel tells the story of what the Prohibition did to the society, how people resorted to unusual ways of obtaining alcohol and unscrupulous individuals who catered to such people in an attempt to get rich quick.
This is both a literary work and a good read, by a writer who knows how to turn a provocative phrase and weave a spellbinding plot.