The Shortest Way Home

By Miriam Parker

Dutton. 313 pp. $26

Reviewed by Laurie Hertzel

If Miriam Parker’s debut novel were a wine, it would be a super-fizzy champagne rather than a serious, heavy port. OK, that analogy might not work because I know nothing about wine, but Parker does, and her knowledge is splashed liberally through this romantic novel.

Set in the wine country around Sonoma, Calif., The Shortest Way Home is told by Hannah, a young woman about to graduate from business school and head for a lucrative Goldman Sachs job in New York. But during a getaway weekend in wine country with her almost-fiancé, Ethan, she visits a historic, down-on-its-heels winery and surprises everyone — especially herself — by impulsively giving up New York, putting Ethan on the back burner, and taking a marketing job at the winery.

Yes, this is a romance, but it is also a novel about a young woman finding herself, figuring out the difference between what she wants to do with her life and what others want. Though things unfold at a rather breakneck speed — job offers within minutes, romances kindling with a few smoldering glances — the gorgeous weather, the tempting wines, the handsome son of the vintner and, yes, the resident dog all make for a charming weekend read.

This review originally appeared in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.