Champagne, France, 1860. Widowed at thirty-eight with a family to support, Madame Pommery revolutionizes champagne from a sweet dessert drink to the dry, crisp champagne we enjoy today. Despite the Prussian army occupying her home and country, Madame Pommery secretly excavates caves under the city dump and builds the most spectacular castle winery in the world.
Based on a true story, Madame Pommery is a heroic novel about a mother and widow who fights the Prussians, the social class system, champagne patriarchs, and champagne tastes to create a champagne legacy.
Reader’s Guide and Book Club Questions:
- When Madame Pommery’s husband dies, why doesn’t she retire to her country cottage like everyone advises her to?
- What were Madame Pommery’s advantages and disadvantages in starting a winery?
- Who were her greatest supporters and who were her greatest critics?
- Why is champagne such a unique wine? Why is it more difficult to make?
- What was Madame Pommery’s vision for champagne? How was it different than her predecessor, Veuve Clicquot?
- What revolutionary things did Madame Pommery do to accomplish her vision of champagne? How long did it take her to succeed
- What were the obstacles impeding Madame Pommery’s success in her winery?
- Who were Madame Pommery’s adversaries, and how did she overcome them? Who was the worst adversary?
- Who had surprising talents that end up helping Madame Pommery? Who was the most unlikely person that helped her?
- What lessons does Madame Pommery learn about the class system of Nobles, Bourgeoisie and Poor? What did she want for her daughter?
- What would life with the Baron offer her? What choice does she make for herself and why?
- What was the Franco-Prussian war all about? How did it cause a civil war between Communards and the French government in Paris?
- What was Prussia’s goal in baiting Napoleon III to declare war on them? Did they want to take over France, or was there something more secretive? Did they accomplish their goal?
- Madame Pommery had many interests and passions. What legacy did she leave behind?
Rebecca Rosenberg is a triple-gold award-winning author, lavender farmer, champagne geek, champagne tour guide, and cocktail creator for Breathless Wines. She is the moderator of Breathless Bubbles & Books and American Historical Novels. Rebecca writes novels about history’s real-life women of substance who made an indelible mark on the world. Her novels have garnered many awards, including IBPA, IPPY, and starred Publisher Weekly reviews for her novels, CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS (2022) THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON (Lake Union 2018) and GOLD DIGGER, The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor (Lion Heart 2019).