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June 26, 2015

Book Notes - Laura Dave "Eight Hundred Grapes"

Eight Hundred Grapes

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes is a compelling novel of relationships, family, and love.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"A charming summer read with depth."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Laura Dave's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Eight Hundred Grapes:


My new novel Eight Hundred Grapes focuses on love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect. Georgia Ford is having a pretty terrible week. Eight days before her wedding, she discovers her fiancé has a child he never told her about. Seeking perspective, she heads home to her family's vineyard in Sonoma County only to discover that her romantic woes are the least of her problems. Her siblings are at war, her parents are separated, and her father is selling the beloved family vineyard to a massive winemaking corporation. As the Ford family sucks her into their struggles, Georgia wrestles with longheld beliefs about what matters most to her, what she's willing to let go, and what she never really did.

I always listen to music while I write. Several of these songs I listened to while working on Eight Hundred Grapes. All of them, in surprising and eloquent ways, speak to feelings of longing and love, of forgiveness, and of finding a place you belong.

"When I Drink" – The Avett Brothers

My love affair with the Avett Brothers is long and true. This song from The Gleam belongs on a jukebox at a tavern at closing time. Eight Hundred Grapes opens at The Brothers' Tavern at closing time, so this feels like an ideal open for this playlist. It's groovy and slow-moving and it takes you a place where you're singing along before you even know the words.

"Start A War" – The National


Georgia arrives home to Sebastopol, the way many of us arrive home, seeking comfort. Instead, she finds mayhem: Parents splitting, family home being sold off for the parts. Georgia dives in, trying to fix her family's problems. This goes about as well as you would expect when anyone tries to force their family to face dirty truths they'd rather run from. The National provides the lyrics to match.

"Better Days" – Bruce Springsteen


There is something about going home again that reminds us how we often feel like we don't have a home anymore. Georgia bumps up against this truth early and hard, lying on the twin bed in her bedroom, staring at the teenage posters on her ceiling. If it had been my ceiling, Bruce Springsteen would have been front and center. I still adore "Better Days," an uncharacteristically hopeful number about finding the person (and place) who takes you somewhere pure.

"Girl From North County" – Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan

Something I love about spending time in Sonoma County is that it feels a little country: there are winding hills, apple orchards, vineyards as long as far as you can see. The Cash and Dylan version of this song is a perfect accompaniment to those back roads. It's happy and sad at once. And it feels like they're singing directly to you. Which is pretty much the greatest thing there is.

"Sweet Thing" – Van Morrison

Georgia is unhappy that her father is selling the family vineyard. Even though she left home years ago, the vineyard is still the place she associates with happiness, with work that has been earned. I spent a good amount of time thinking about the Ford family vineyard, while Sweet Thing was in the background, helping me figure out where Georgia was going.

"Shooting Star" – Bob Dylan

There is a theme here of boozy, late-night tunes. And that's how I think of this song. It works any time of day, but it feels like it should be reserved for moonlight, midnight, driving home with no one on the road. I'm writing the screenplay for Eight Hundred Grapes and Bob Dylan's songs play a funny role in the harvest—this one especially.

"So Much Water" – M. Ward

The song feels like a soundtrack to a party, at least a party I'd want to go to—like the harvest party, which turns the Ford Family on their head. I like the surprising speed of the song and how it turns on its own head: revealing itself to be the opposite of the cheerful ditty it's almost mascaraing as the first time through.

"What's Been Going On" – Amos Lee

Strumming and low, this song is a stunner. Every time I listen, I get lost in it. And, many nights, the Fords pick grapes in the vineyard. I like to think that Amos Lee is playing in the background, slow like this, while they get a little lost themselves.


Laura Dave and Eight Hundred Grapes links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
City Lights interview with the author
CT Style interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The First Husband
SheaKnows interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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