Review: The Truth is in the Wine by Curtis Bunn

This novel has a good premise but many flaws. The story is about a husband and wife with a rocky marriage. Since they both enjoy fine wine, Ginger and Paul decide to take the vacation they’ve always wanted – to Napa Valley.

The book could be great, but the writing is amateurish and long-winded.

  1. Instead of dialogue, Bunn uses stream of consciousness much of the time. While this is okay in theory, it’s difficult to read a whole novel written in this way. In addition, the thoughts are repetitive and circular. While this may mimic a person’s thoughts in real life, it doesn’t work In a novel.
  2. The writing is uneven. A well written page might be abruptly punctuated with an amateur “it didn’t feel good.” If the description is precise, the reader doesn’t need to be told that something didn’t feel good.
  3. The sex scenes are abrupt and vulgar. Perhaps college boys would appreciate them, but a (mumblemumble)-ty year old muse…. Not so much. Perhaps I am not the intended audience. But then, who IS the audience for a book about marriage with unappealing and unromantic sex scenes?
  4. The author uses so much real estate to describe and explain things instead of showing the reader something succinctly. Describing four people’s meals in detail — when the menu isn’t relevant — doesn’t move the plot forward.
  5. Implausible subplots: The 40-yr old wife who couldn’t get pregnant for 20 years gets pregnant, has an abortion without telling anyone, then 2 months later gets pregnant again. The two pregnancies are a result of having sex three times over the course of four months. Really?
    Another far fetched subplot was a double date 3000 miles away where one woman and the other woman’s date are long lost lovers from 40 years ago.

There’s more if you can stand it.

Curtis Bunn uses incorrect vocabulary and confusing descriptions. Examples:
-One passage states “to determine if they had stuffed contraband up the cracks of their anuses”. Anuses don’t have cracks.
– Putting lips to a wineglass is described as akin to putting lips on the wife’s breast. How exactly is a wineglass like a breast?
-God and His blessings are mentioned frequently… And even more frequently, the use of “Goddamn.”
-The author includes in the double date conversation a joke-y allusion to jerry Sandusky “who molested all those boys” – and “the ladies laughed.” Not funny.

The book was all over the place. Curtis Bunn employs frat boy humor, pretentious mentions of numerous specific wines, wannabe-marriage-counseling through a thin veil of fiction, and totally unbelievable subplots to create a confusing, uneven novel that I struggled to finish.

One star for unique ideas. The book needs heavy editing.


I don’t recommend The Truth is in the Wine. But I DO recommend this wonderful, witty, clever, well-written book about a marriage on the rocks:

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

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