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The Wine Lover’s Daughter (No. 57)
Book Recommendations | Slightly Foxed Issue 72, Winter 2021| Slightly Foxed Edition No. 57, Anne Fadiman, The Wine Lover's Daughter
SFE 57, Anne Fadiman, The Wine Lover's Daughter (holding image)
  • ISBN: 9781910898512
  • Pages: 204
  • Dimensions: 110 x 170mm
  • Publication date: 1 December 2021
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Binding: Cloth hardback
  • Trimmings: Coloured endpapers; silk ribbon, head- & tailband; gold blocking to spine; blind blocking to front
  • NB: Hand-numbered limited edition of 2,000
  • Preface: Adam Sisman
  • Number in SFE series: 57
Made in Britain

The Wine Lover’s Daughter (No. 57)

Anne Fadiman
From£18

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‘Aside from his books, he loved nothing – and no one – longer, more ardently, or more faithfully than he loved wine . . . they both sparked conversation, they both were a lifetime project, they both were pleasurable to shelve, they were the only things he collected.’

The celebrated American author, editor and essayist Anne Fadiman was born in 1953 into a family of booklovers and writers. Her mother Annalee was the only female war correspondent in China during the Second World War, and her father Clifton was a successful author, critic, columnist, publisher and MC of the popular NBC radio quiz show Information Please. Anne and her brother Kim grew up surrounded by thousands of books and the entire family were committed ‘sesquipedalians’, besotted with very long words. The effect of this ‘pathologically bookish’ childhood was celebrated in Anne’s well-loved collection of warm and witty essays, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.

The Wine Lover’s Daughter began life as an idea for an article Anne pitched to Harper’s magazine. ‘I think I could tell the story of my father’s life and character through wine,’ she proposed. The article never materialized but the idea took root and, thankfully, Anne decided to write this memoir. Born in Brooklyn to Eastern European immigrants, Clifton Fadiman believed his twin passions – books and an appreciation of wine – were essential to his reinvention as the model of a modern, cultivated man; to learn about wine was, as he often said, both civilized and civilizing. Anne traces her father’s love affair with wine from his first taste of a white Graves 1927 (on a trip to Paris, where he went to retrieve his wayward first wife) to the Château Lafite-Rothschild 1904 he opened to celebrate his eightieth birthday, and, in doing so, she evokes an entire era of American life. With characteristic wit she also examines her own relationship with her father, writing tenderly and movingly about a vital man yet remaining clear-sighted about his failings.

First published in 2017, this delightful memoir has not until now been available outside America. And it should be, because it is a minor classic, one which will resonate with fathers and daughters, booklovers and wine-lovers, everywhere.

‘A wonderfully engaging memoir . . . Consistently absorbing . . . You will be hard-pressed to stop reading . . . Anne Fadiman’s prose, like a proper gentleman’s suit, is beautifully tailored without drawing attention to itself.’ Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

‘[Clifton] Fadiman was something of an encyclopedia himself, his mind a magpie’s nest of odd facts and glittering insights that he summoned with seeming ease as a great explainer of literature and culture to popular audiences . . . [A] fondly drawn portrait . . . As the title suggests, [Anne Fadiman’s] book is ostensibly about Clifton Fadiman’s love affair with wine, although she writes about his oenophilic odyssey as a way to write about many other things: his ideals, his affectionate if complicated relationship with her, and his lifelong struggle to transcend his origins.’ Danny Heitman, The Wall Street Journal



    A Vintage Life

    Anne Fadiman’s memoir of her father originated as one of several ideas for an article that she pitched to an editor at Harper’s magazine. ‘I think I could tell the story of my father’s life...

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    Comments & Reviews

    Leave your review

    1. John Sabalis says:

      I received this book in the post, and within two days I had read it from cover to cover. All I can say is that it was a delightful book. Anne Fadiman’s mastery of the English language is a delight, and her tale of the contradictions in the life of her over-achieving father was poignant. The book manages to address numerous themes – the immigrant experience, Jewishness, Jewish assimilation into American life, a love of books, and most importantly a discourse on fine wines. I just loved the book; thanks for recommending it.

    2. “… a deliciously rich, well-balanced portrait … But Fadiman’s memoir uncorks much more than a remembrance of drinks past or a daughter’s filial intoxication. By allowing her memories to ripen over the many years since her father’s death in 1999, the result is a superbly evolved, less tannic pour … like her father, Fadiman has that rare ability to wear her erudition lightly. And what he said about wine also applies to The Wine Lover’s Daughter: it is a delectable ode to cultivation and civilization.”

    3. “… a wonderfully engaging memoir of both her father, Clifton Fadiman, and of what it was like to grow up in a highly bookish and privileged household … By recording both her past experiences and her current thoughts about those experiences, she keeps The Wine Lover’s Daughter consistently absorbing and, once begun, you will be hard-pressed to stop reading, even though the book should probably be savored like a grand cru rather than guzzled down like cheap beer. Either way, though, you’re in for a good time … Anne Fadiman’s prose, like a proper gentleman’s suit, is beautifully tailored without drawing attention to itself … [a] clear-eyed and loving memoir.”

    4. “There could hardly be a more fitting book for the season than our latest Slightly Foxed Edition, The Wine Lover’s Daughter by Anne Fadiman, whose earlier book, Ex Libris, we praised in the opening piece in our very first issue eighteen years ago. As Adam Sisman says (see Slightly Foxed Issue 72, p.14), the title is something of a misnomer: The Wine Loving Father would be more apt for this affectionate but clear-eyed memoir in which the American writer remembers her convivial and amusing father, a complicated self-made Jew from Brooklyn with a passion for wine who, though moving in the best literary circles and heaped with honours by the end of his life, never felt he was quite good enough. It’s not just a book for wine buffs either, but one that breathes the atmosphere of a more spacious era in American literary life.”

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