The story of Veuve Clicquot, the first woman of Champagne
Triple-gold-medal-winning author Rebecca Rosenberg serves up a triumphant tale of talent and ambition, love and loss, betrayal and redemption, and accepting yourself and others for who they are.
Champagne, France, 1800
Twenty-year-old Barbe-Nicole has inherited Le Nez (an uncanny sense of smell that makes her picky, persnickety, and particularly perceptive) from her great-grandfather, a renowned champagne maker.
Her parents, however, see Le Nez as a curse and try to marry her off to an unsuspecting suitor. But Barbe-Nicole is determined to use Le Nez to make great champagne. When she learns her childhood sweetheart, François Clicquot, wants to start a winery, she rejects her parents' suitors and marries François despite his mental illness.
The Widow Known as Veuve Clicquot
Soon, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot must cope with her husband's death. Becoming a widow known as Veuve Clicquot, she grapples with a new overbearing partner, the difficulties of making champagne and the Napoleonic Codes preventing women from owning a business.
All this while her father takes a military uniform contract from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who wages six wars against European monarchs, crippling Veuve Clicquot's ability to sell her champagne.
Using Le Nez, Veuve Clicquot struggles through unbearable hardships and challenges Napoleon himself. When she falls in love with her sales manager, Louis Bohne, who asks her to marry, she must choose between losing her winery to her husband, as dictated by the Napoleonic Code or losing Louis. In the ultimate showdown, Veuve Clicquot risks imprisonment and even death as she defies Napoleon.
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the first in a series about real-life widows in France (1800-1950) who made champagne a worldwide phenomenon