The Cup and the Sword (Alice Tisdale Hobart, 1940)

Elizabeth goes to live with her relatives, the Rambleus, who are large vintners in California. Prohibition is on, though. They can legally produce a small amount of wine for sacramental use, but they’ve got to find some other way to make money, whether it’s selling the grapes directly or drying them into raisins first. Old Phillipe loves his vines like his children and would rather let the grapes rot than go to an inferior use. John, the expected heir, is great deal more ruthless.

The vineyards are old Philippe’s, but the household is run by Martha. She hates Elizabeth from the start but plans on marrying her to Henri Don Swanaña to join their lands together. There’s nothing Elizabeth wants to do less, but Martha is most forceful. On the night that the wedding is to be announced, Andrew offers to elope with her, which she does.

Philippe dies. The will comes a a surprise to John, in that he’s essentially left out of it. Martha is given the house but no control of the company. The northern vineyard, used to make sacramental wine, he gives to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is used to living in London and Paris and hasn’t ever been happy in the Californian countryside. Andrew is worn down until the point that he leaves. Prohibition is repealed and wine can be sold again. She can sell the vineyard and the wine casks for an enormous sum and go where she pleases, he tells her. But Elizabeth has come to identify with the land as well. With John’s help, she manages both the farming and business side of wine making.

At last, Andrew is convinced to come back home. He’d been fighting in the Spanish Civil War and is rather traumatized. He comes with a warning that the Spanish war is a prelude to a much larger war to come.

Inscription: on the top-right corner of the title page, “Mrs. John Cherry, April 1943”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s