Book Review: Vintage 1954

Great novels are above all great fairytales
— Vladimir Nabokov

Author Antoine Laurain’s Vintage 1954, an endearing time-travel story, begins in the year of its title, with winegrower Pierre Chaveau who experiences a middle-of-the-night UFO sighting above a Beaujolais vineyard. Twenty four years later, after drinking a bottle of wine from that same vineyard and vintage, Chaveau and his dog mysteriously disappear.

The tale then jumps to Paris in 2017 with four newly-acquainted characters: property manager Hubert Larnaudie, antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and American airbnb tenant Bob. When Larnaudie finds a dusty bottle of 1954 Beaujolais while cleaning out his cellar, he shares it with his three friends. The next day the four of them discover that they have been transported back in time, to Paris in 1954.

The reader is then taken along on a nostalgic journey to Paris — before the Louvre had a glass pyramid, and when the euro and cellphones didn’t exist. After the initial shock, the characters delight in a Paris of long ago that they had only dreamed of; a time when Les Halles was a real marketplace and “everyone would mingle in the restaurants after hours: butchers, well-heeled diners, American tourists, film stars …” At the same time, they realize they must figure out how to get back to their real lives in 2017.

The novel (find it on is a quirky and enchanting must-read, especially for Francophiles, who will enjoy a sentimental picture of 1950s Paris, when the likes of Edith Piaf, Audrey Hepburn, and Salvador Dali held court in the cafés and cabarets of the “City of Light.”

About the Author

Antoine Laurain was born in Paris and is a journalist, antiques collector and award-winning author. His novel The President’s Hat was a Waterstones Book Club and ABA Indies Introduce pick. His novel The Red Notebook was on the Indie Next List and is a MIBA selection (Midwest Independent Bestseller Association, a collection of the top-selling adult and children's titles for both hardcover and paperback releases).

Note: Vintage 1954 was sent to me as an advance copy. All opinions are my own.