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The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled Itby Tilar J. Mazzeo
Synopses & Reviews
The story of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, showed the world how to live with style, and emerged a legend.
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 Napoléon and Joséphine 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.
"The Widow Clicquot is someone we should all know about....Long a shadowy, legend-obscured figure, in Tilar Mazzeo's agile hands the widow sheds her weeds and takes form before our eyes as a distinctly modern entrepreneur....The result is narrative history that fizzes with life and feeling." Benjamin Wallace, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Billionaire's Vinegar
"Mazzeo's tale moves swiftly through Barbe-Nicole's many accomplishments, including her method for storing bottles nose-down — an innovation that allowed the second fermentation detritus to be cleared efficiently, setting her far ahead of her competitors." Los Angeles Times
Book News Annotation:
Mazzeo, an author who admits to having been cheered in a bleak midwinter by the Widow, set out to repay her with a biography only to find that the founder of one of the greatest houses of champagne left few personal letters and no diaries to draw on, only shelf after shelf of account books. Undaunted, she scoured the region for traces of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the Widow Cliquot. From civic records, the history of the region and folk memory Mazzeo created a picture of the Widow's life and the time she lived in, from her childhood during the French Revolution to her death in 1866, immensely rich and famous. While it is impossible to know the woman herself intimately, the portrait that emerges is a convincing one of a smart and determined woman who took a small business and made of it an international enterprise. Mazzeo notes that, while Barbe-Nicole was one of the first, Louise Pommery, also a widow soon followed in her footsteps. However, until recently, there were no others. The widow Clicquot was a model for enterprising business women and one wonders why more did not emulate her. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Widow Clicquot brings to life the woman behind the famous champagne label — a daring and determined entrepreneur who, newly widowed during the chaotic years of the French revolution, assumes the reins of the fledgling wine business she and her husband had started.
The Widow Clicquot is the New York Times bestselling business biography of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, became a legend in her tumultuous times, and showed the world how to live with style. Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life the woman behind the label, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, in this utterly intoxicating book that is as much a fascinating journey through the process of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered and fascinating woman.
About the Author
Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian and biographer, and a passionate student of wine and food culture. An assistant professor at Colby College in Maine, she divides her time between the California wine country and New York City.
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