Today and tomorrow (March 5 and 6) on Amazon, for the first time ever, Awesome Indies’ contemporary fiction novel PANDORA’S BOTTLE is FREE.* If you haven’t already picked up your copy of this wonderful, critically acclaimed title, now is the perfect time to do so!
What happens when you pin all your hopes on a single event and it all goes terribly wrong? When that event is the uncorking of a fabled bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite once owned by Thomas Jefferson, the repercussions are emotional, financial, theatrical and, in every way, unexpected. When Sy Hampton purchases this legendary bottle which, through a quirk of preservation, may yet be drinkable he shocks the wine community by choosing to uncork it privately with a female companion, rather than at a special public event. Sy intends the evening to be a quiet reassertion of his virility in the throes of middle age, but for ambitious restaurateur Annette Lecocq, the event offers an irresistible opportunity for much-needed publicity. Their competing agendas are not the only things to collide on the fateful night. Caught in the crossfire are Tripp Macgregor, a waiter on the verge of his long-awaited Broadway debut, and Valentina D Ambrosio, the beautiful but unworldly working girl from Brooklyn Sy hopes to impress.
Sy decided to turn in early. He left his study, but instead of padding across the hall to his bedroom, his feet led him downstairs, where he could hear Claudine rattling around in the kitchen, putting away pots and pans. He entered the dining room, and with the spillage from the Tiffany chandelier in the hall casting a kaleidoscopic glow on the blue and peach walls, he unlocked the breakfront and removed the Lafite from its resting place.
What if he drank it, alone, right then and there?
Before he knew what he was doing, Sy had the bottle upright on the dining room table, his best corkscrew in hand.
Well, why the hell not?
Even with the help of her wine-loving pal, whatever his name was, Valentina wasn’t going to appreciate the wine. He knew that. He had known it from the start. In the end, he had bought the wine for himself, and he should drink it himself. Who deserved to commune with the grapes of history more than he did?
But it was so unceremonious to drink it alone. If a wine cork pops in a dining room and there’s no guest to hear it, does it count? Without a witness, would it register in the world, or would he wake the next morning, with a histamine headache no doubt, and wonder if the whole thing was nothing but a half-million-dollar dream?
He’d invite someone over, that’s what he’d do. He looked at his watch. It was only nine thirty. He could call Peter Blomgard, or hell, he could even call Antony Farrell. What was he doing wasting the wine on Valentina? Was it worth sacrificing something this valuable in a misguided attempt to make himself more attractive? He had a vision of calling old Mrs. Bagnold and inviting her over to share the wine. Even that would make more sense than drinking it alone or using it to try to impress a girl who, he suspected, probably didn’t return his interest.
Or would it? Maybe, at the end of the day, the only way this wine was ever going to satisfy him was for it to be his alone. His prize, his treat, his toy. It was a bottle of wine, nothing more. Not a status symbol, not an aphrodisiac, not a mark of how far he’d come or an indication of where he was going, but a beverage to be hoarded and savored in solitude as a fitting reward for a lifetime of devotion to the cult of fine wine.
He flipped open his corkscrew and unfolded the knife. Grasping the bottle firmly around the neck, he made a cut in the capsule. A shiver went down his spine, and he set both bottle and corkscrew back on the table. For no reason that he could think of, his grandmother’s voice rang inside his head, as loud and as present as if she were standing beside him.
“You could buy a house with that! You could sell it and donate the money to the poor! But what are you going to do . . . drink it?! That’s pouring money away, let me tell you!”
Suddenly, Sy began to laugh. It was madness! They must all be jeering at him, not just his dead grandmother editorializing inside his head. What was he thinking, paying that kind of money for a bottle of fermented grape juice that, legend or no legend, would probably be more useful taking the smell out of old sneakers?
He sat down heavily on one of Marianne’s shield-back chairs. He was ridiculous. His wine was ridiculous. Even his fellow oenophiles were probably laughing at him. It was all a joke. In the annals of impotent, self-aggrandizing gestures, paying half a million dollars for a bottle of wine and inviting your secretary out to dinner to drink it had to rank pretty close to the top.
That settled it. If he drank the wine, nobody could mock him anymore. Valentina would probably be relieved.
He would be relieved.
“Pandora’s Bottle is as delicious as a vintage Chateau Lafite and almost as rare–a novel that is as entertaining as it is smart. Joanne Sydney Lessner serves it with just the right dish of human folly.”
–Marc Acito, author of How I Paid for College and Attack of the Theater People
“Lessner has served up a bubbly, big-haired and big-hearted opus magnum, redolent of the vanities of New York, with a whiff of Wodehouse and a dash of Dickens, full of raucous overtones but with a gentle finish. Drinkable immediately!”
–Jonathan Levi, Author of A Guide for the Perplexed and Co-Founder of Granta
“Joanne Sydney Lessner has carefully crafted a well-wrought, fun, and fast-paced book detailing the highs and lows of the wine world. A great read.”
–Carlo De Vito, author of East Coast Wineries and 10 Secrets My Dog Taught Me
About the Author:
Joanne Sydney Lessner is the author of Pandora’s Bottle, a novel inspired by the true story of the world’s most expensive bottle of wine, which Paperback Dolls named one of the top five books of 2010. BloodWrites Award-Winner The Temporary Detective introduces Isobel Spice, aspiring actress and resourceful office temp turned amateur sleuth. Isobel’s adventures continue in Bad Publicity, coming in March 2013. No stranger to the theatrical world, Joanne enjoys an active performing career, and with her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, has co-authored several musicals, including the cult hit Fermat’s Last Tango and Einstein’s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010 as the winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition. She is a graduate of Yale University. http://joannelessner.com.
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