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Publisher's Summary

Veuve Clicquot champagne epitomizes glamour, style, and luxury. But who was this young widow - the Veuve Clicquot - whose champagne sparkled at the courts of France, Britain, and Russia, and how did she rise to celebrity and fortune?

In The Widow Clicquot, Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life for the first time the fascinating woman behind the iconic yellow label: Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin. A young witness to the dramatic events of the French Revolution and a new widow during the chaotic years of the Napoleonic Wars, Barbe-Nicole defied convention by assuming - after her husband's death - the reins of the fledgling wine business they had nurtured. Steering the company through dizzying political and financial reversals, she became one of the world's first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

Although the Widow Clicquot is still a legend in her native France, her story has never been told in all its richness - until now. Painstakingly researched and elegantly written, The Widow Clicquot provides a glimpse into the life of a woman who arranged clandestine and perilous champagne deliveries to Russia one day and entertained Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte on another. She was a daring and determined entrepreneur, a bold risk taker, and an audacious and intelligent woman who took control of her own destiny when fate left her on the brink of financial ruin. Her legacy lives on today, not simply through the famous product that still bears her name, but now through Mazzeo's finely crafted book.

As much a fascinating journey through the process of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered woman, The Widow Clicquot is utterly intoxicating.

©2009 Tilar J. Mazzeo (P)2009 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Told in a light and graceful style that is just right for its subject.... [I]t's a fascinating trip, made even more so by Ms. Mazzeo's charming cameo appearances as a kind of tour guide....an intoxicating business biography." ( The Wall Street Journal)
"If you like champagne, The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo is definitely worth a drink." (Associated Press)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Anne
  • Lawrence, KS, USA
  • 04-29-09

A painful listen

I am about to tear out my hair because this audiobook is so poorly written and narrated. The author's method of "imagining" what her characters "must have" seen, thought, and felt is very distracting and certainly undermines her credibility. Similarly, she goes over the same information many times...WHY?? The narrator, Susan Erickson, makes the experience of listening to the book even more painful by coming to a full stop before each French name or word and then s l o w l y pronouncing it phonetically. AWFUL! TERRIBLE!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bravo for the Widow

Got this book on recommendation from the View. Probably would not have zeroed in on otherwise. As a lover of nonfiction this was a time in history and subject matter I have very little knowledge and thoroughly enjoyed the content and presentation. What a fascinating woman and learned interesting fun facts about the history and production of champagne.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

a bit impersonal

While the author is passionate about the subject, it doesn't come through strongly until the final third of the book. Admittedly, I am not a fan of nonfiction but this is very dry the first half. I liked the reader's tone and voice. Her French pronunciation was a bonus.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Makes me want to take a trip!

Tilar Mazzeo does an excellent job of conjuring a character out of a dearth of personal records. Telling this story through the lens of the business that Clicquot left behind and the goings-on of her day was a clever strategy--and a successful one. One forms an image and gets a sense of a great and formidable woman through the juxtaposition of Mme Clicquot's accomplishments and a vivid description of the times in which she lived. Mazzeo tells the story with creativity, affection, admiration, and empathy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It opened a new world to me--one I want to explore more.

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Very informative and engaging story

I love Champagne and all things fabulous so this was a no brainer for me! The tragically beautiful story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin was definitely one of the best things I've ever encountered! The history behind her company and of the era she lived in was amazing!

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cheers to this book

so much to learn about the widow cliquot and the emergence of champaign. well done.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not much of a story but a great woman

This amazing woman did so much for the champagne industry and France itself. She took chances, made mistakes, built an empire and like all good hero or heroines, against great odds. She deserves to be toasted with of course a glass of Veuve Clicquot. I learned a lot about the history of champagne and a little about the woman, but the story had to be filled out with this stuff as there isn't much to tell about the Widow.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Great history, maybe too much detail

This was a great listen. As some one who is enjoying learning about wine. Only complaint was the book had a few too many dull spots where the story seemed to dragggg. Over all with the listen or read

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A charming story, fluffed with history

I had some grievances with this book; the author did not seem to have a refined, strong writing style and at times the author's wine knowledge is inaccurate and severely wanting. Some of the narrators French pronunciations caused me to cringe I enjoyed the fluid narration and found the story entertaining and engaging. I would not recommend this to a French wine connoisseur but it is worthy to amuse any who have moderate affections for wine and/or history. All in all; well worth a credit.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful