49 pages 1 hour read

Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2015

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Summary and Study Guide


Eight Hundred Grapes is a standalone romance novel written by New York Times best-selling author Laura Dave. It was originally published by Simon and Schuster in 2015 and was named a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, and Us Weekly. Formerly a freelance journalist for ESPN, Dave is currently a full-time author who specializes in romance fiction, drama, and mystery. She has six published titles, three of which have been optioned by movie studios, with The Last Thing He Told Me released by Apple TV+ as a limited series in 2023. She resides in Santa Monica, California, and often uses the Californian landscape as a setting for many of her stories. Throughout most of her works, including Eight Hundred Grapes, Dave examines the many complexities of family dynamics, personal identity, and fulfillment in the pursuit of love and passion.

This study guide refers to the Simon and Schuster e-book edition distributed by Google Books and published on June 2, 2015.

Content Warning: This novel includes discussion of miscarriage.

Plot Summary

Set in the vineyard landscape of Sonoma County, Eight Hundred Grapes is the first-person narrated story of Georgia Ford, whose wedding plans and move to London are upended when she discovers that her husband-to-be, Ben, has kept a secret from her: He has a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Overwhelmed by this revelation, Georgia flees Los Angeles for her hometown, Sebastopol, California, where her family still holds a vineyard—or so she thinks. When she arrives in the middle of the night, she quickly comes to realize that her family has also been keeping secrets: Her parents have separated, and her mother now has a lover by the name of Henry Morgan; her twin brothers, Finn and Bobby, are on thin ice with each other, and her father is selling the family vineyard, The Last Straw, to Jacob McCarthy, the young chief executive officer (CEO) of the ill-reputed Murray Grant Wines.

Incensed about being isolated from all of these events, Georgia sets about ignoring her own problems and fixing everyone else’s. Her success rate, however, is minimal at best. When she confronts Jacob to stop the sale, she is charmed by the man. When she discusses the tension between her brothers with Finn, he reveals that he has feelings for Bobby’s wife, Margaret, who kissed him while drunk one night. Furthermore, though she tries to speak with her parents about their separation, neither will listen; her mother is too hurt from the emotional alienation that she suffered from her father, and her father is, as always, too busy with the vineyard.

When Ben then shows up with his daughter, Maddie, more complications arise. Although Georgia can see a future in which she loves Maddie and lives a good life in London, Ben has kept more secrets from her: Maddie’s mother, internationally famous actress Michelle Carter, still has her sights on Ben and wants him back. The choice is not without appeal for Ben, and he has seriously considered the option as a way to be with Maddie. While he ultimately decides to remain with Georgia out of love, he has doubts about whether or not he’s making the right decision. Meanwhile, Bobby finds out about Margaret and Finn’s kiss, and a fight erupts between the brothers during the family’s last harvest dinner. As if things weren’t complicated enough, the passion that Georgia once had for winemaking returns with force, and her love for the vineyard grows desperate as all her efforts to thwart her family vineyard’s sale prove unsuccessful. Just as Georgia tries to find a compromise with Ben and move forward with their wedding, Michelle comes to visit and destroys Georgia’s pictured peaceful life in London.

When the vineyard is threatened by a fire and Georgia’s father collapses from a second heart attack, the family puts their differences aside and comes together under a fierce storm to salvage what they can. Their father survives the heart attack, and his brush with death pushes the Ford family to find courage and face their problems head-on. Finn promises to end his feelings for Margaret; Bobby forgives him and promises to work on his relationship with his wife; Dan, their father, renews his love and devotion for Jen, their mother; she, in turn, ends things with Henry; and Georgia and Ben decide to amicably separate. They acknowledge that their priorities of the vineyard and Maddie, respectively, overshadow the love that they share for one another. As everyone drifts into their new life chapters, Jacob offers Georgia the first 10 acres that her father ever bought for his vineyard, and she takes them, resolved that she will create a new vineyard that is entirely her own.