I’ve read all of Antoine Laurain’s novels and they are absolute gems so to receive a reading copy of his latest book filled me with joy. His writing style is always playful, descriptive with a dry sense of humour.
Vintage 1954 opens as an eclectic group are sharing a bottle of wine, a 1954 vintage of Beaujolais. Harmless enough you would imagine however the following morning they all wake up in the year of 1954. In what is a delightful novel we meet Hubert Larnaudie, owner of the Parisian apartment where the group have gathered. He has shared his bottle of wine with antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who’s on his first trip to Europe.
After the initial shock of waking up in Paris of 1950’s, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. Hubert meets his grandfather and goes back into the apartments of his family. Bob visits the Mona Lisa without hordes of tourists, Magalie visits the embroidery shop that her grandmother and Julien is back at Harry’s bar mixing cocktails.
One of the most playful and enjoyable scenes is when an up and coming actress stops by Harry’s Bar and Julien invents a cocktail for her. The actress is non other than Audrey Hepburn. Laurain’s descriptions of 1095’s Paris are vivid and the scenes he portrays lovely. We visit Les Halles market when it was in its heyday and we hear Edith Piaf recommending a new song from Charles Aznavour and even Dali makes an appearance.
While the four love being back in 1950’s Paris they know they must ultimately return to 2017 and the second half of the book is devoted to achieving this. They discover that the reason they have been transported back in time is down to a UFO and so to return they must gather in the same place under a UFO as it appears above the Chateau Saint-Antoine vineyard.
If you love France and dream of Paris in the 1950’s this is the book for you. And if you love this there are more gems available to read immediately such as The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook, two of my favourite novels.