Elizabeth and Carolyn both live in the lavish gated community of Vintner’s Estate, but Carolyn is harboring a secret. When Elizabeth stumbles on the truth, she plots to use the information to her advantage unaware that her own life is soon to spiral out of control.
Then when Elizabeth’s sister, Sarah starts a design business, and quickly becomes the darling of Vintner’s Estate, this reversal of fortune threatens Elizabeth’s position with the other women. As Elizabeth battles to regain control, she discovers that her own life has been as much of a lie as Carolyn’s.
A few months ago Jane contacted me about her new book, Gatekeepers of the Grapevine and as soon as I read the summary I was intrigued, I was born in Cape Town and lived there until I was five, so the idea of reading a book set there and being able to use my knowledge from my visit back there as a teenager and what my family have told me really appealed. Although I am pretty sure my constant request of Afrikaans translations from my parents drove them insane!
When the book opens we slowly meeting the ladies of Vinter's Estate, a gated community where the rich and privileged of Cape Town live and socialise. Through the switching character POVs, we get to know Elizabeth, Sarah and Carolyn and we also see into the life of a fourth young lady every so often through the book, these chapters are clearly set during Apartheid South Africa and those chapters broke my heart.
As well as the ladies of the Estate we get to know Sarah, Elizabeth's younger sister, and they couldn't be more different. Sarah is bohemian and an artist while Elizabeth is straight-laced and perfect. I loved this difference between the two of them and it really was an interesting juxtaposition to read. I loved Sarah from the moment I met her but I never felt the same about Elizabeth, in fact, I hated her with a passion and I couldn't wait to see her get her just desserts! Jane did an amazing job of developing Elizabeth and, because of this, even when her world is crumbling, you find it difficult to feel any sort of empathy for her or her family!
One of my favourite aspects of this book is Sarah. Like I said above I loved her and she is very likeable. You are constantly rooting for her and I loved seeing the progression and development of her character, you really see her come out of her shell and become the woman she is meant to be. I loved how Genevieve, one of the new homeowners, takes her under her wing and I truly believe had it not been for her Sarah would never have seen her full potential!
Oh and then there is the secret and the twist. Throughout the book, you're aware Carolyn has a secret that no one, even her husband knows, eventually it's fairly easy to figure out what it is but this doesn't detract from the story in the slightest. I loved this twist to her story and there's one part of her backstory I really enjoyed: her bangles. She has twelve bangles that clearly mean something to her and when I did learn their significance I couldn't help but smile. They are her daily reminder of just how far she has come in her life.
One thing Jane does amazingly well in this book is describing the surroundings her characters live in from Jane's descriptions I could picture everything perfectly! If I closed my eyes I could see Cape Town, I could see Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, the beaches and feel the atmosphere and that made this book even more amazing! I honestly think even those with no knowledge of the city would be able to do that too.