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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Pass the Vino: A Review of One Friday in Napa by Jennifer Hamm

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Special hello goes out to Croatia. There are so many of you showing up in my analytics as of late. It’s so nice to see you, I’m glad you’re here. Please enjoy your stay here at RHRML.

Bears waving.
How's everyone doing today?

I’m here today with a new review! I’m on a roll this month with all these new reviews. And I have a super special new review for ya today. Today’s review is brought to you by She Writes Press. They sent me an advanced reader’s copy of today’s book in exchange for an honest review; they aren’t paying me, they just sent me the book for free. Thank you so much to She Writes Press for sending me a copy, it means so much to me that someone out there wants to send me books. Thank you!

And with that, let’s meet today’s review. Please welcome to the stage One Friday in Napa by Jennifer Hamm! One Friday in Napa releases on August 29, 2023.

Book cover of One Friday in Napa by Jennifer Hamm.

With that, let’s crack into it. Synopsis time! As always, a spoiler alert is in order. If you’ve read literally any other review by me then you know I tend to spoil a lot of a book’s plot. This is your one and only warning.

Our story today jumps between 1946 and 1996. It follows mother and daughter, Olivia and Vene respectively, as they both deal with major events occurring in their lives. The 1946 story follows Olivia as she struggles to find love and happiness in her marriage. Her husband is away in Europe for months at a time as he’s an American diplomat working on foreign affairs directly after World War II. Which means Olivia is on her own for most of the time. That being said, she’s not technically alone, she has servants cause this family is wealthy and owns a vineyard. It’s with the family’s cook, Max, and the vineyard’s new winemaker, Victor, that Olivia finds friendship, happiness, and a little something more with the latter man.

Pixelated hearts
I'm sure everyone saw that coming.

Vene, in the 1996 story, has already found love and happiness. She has a wonderful husband and daughter and enjoys her job very much. Her story focuses on her relationship with her mother. It’s quite cold to say the least. Sadly, Olivia is dying of cancer. At the start of One Friday in Napa, Vene receives a call from her father saying Olivia doesn’t have much time left. What follows is a return to Vene’s childhood home in order to see if she can mend the relationship with her mother.

Things don’t start off well as Olivia comes across as cold as ever. Then Vene discovers a well-used cookbook. In it, Olivia has written passages that are warm and loving and are nothing like the woman Vene knows. This cookbook sets Vene on a quest to discover who her mother was in her youth, the secrets she’s kept for 50-years, and the reasons to why her mother is the way she is.

Beach read. That’s really all I got. This is the perfect summer beach read if you want some family drama mixed with a little bit of romance. Truthfully, this book wasn’t my cup of tea. Not a big fan of it if I’m being honest; not necessarily because it was bad but because this isn’t my genre of choice.

I want to start with characters. In my eyes, Vene doesn’t really have a personality. In fairness, she is watching her mother die of cancer and this is a woman she’s always had to delicately dance around so fights don’t ensue. Realistically the situation isn’t ideal for showcasing a character’s personality. I get that, but she wasn’t all that interesting to read. Her story wasn’t intriguing to me. I cared much more about Olivia’s story; that’s where all the drama was.

I’ve talked about this before but it bears mentioning yet again. I’m getting really tired of duel POV novels. Without fail there is always one POV I care about much more than the other. In this case, it’s Olivia’s story. Forbidden love, decadent food, messy, messy drama, a few mentions of haute couture; Olivia’s part of the story has it all.

Bill Hader as Stefan on SNL.

Vene’s story didn’t have much. I found her to be a relatable enough character despite her lack of personality, but it never felt like much occurred. It was mainly her going about her life while trying to connect with her mom. That’s just not my cup of tea. I need something occurring on every page. I need action. I need suspense. I need psychological horror. One Friday in Napa is far from that.

This brings us to plot. It’s a pretty simplistic one. A mother is sadly on her death bed and a daughter is trying to mend bridges with said mother. Daughter finds important writings of the mother’s life that changes the way she thinks of her mother and sets out to discover her mother’s long buried secrets. It’s your standard women’s fiction plot. It’s nothing overly special and you can guess what the mother’s secrets are right at the start.

Pixelated hearts.
It's a secret we all see coming from a mile away.

That’s why I call this a beach read. One Friday in Napa is a book that’s not taxing, is an easy read, and is a book readers know what they’re getting when they pick up a copy. This is not a groundbreaking novel. There aren’t any crazy twists that change everything you thought you knew. It is a simple read for the dog days of summer.

With that, I must bid you all adieu. Thank you so much for joining me this week, I hope you had a great time here. Thank you once again to She Writes Press for sending me a copy of One Friday in Napa! It means so much to me that someone out there wants to send me book, I appreciate you guys more than you’ll ever know. Thank you! As for you my dear reader, I shall see you again next week with another new review.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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