The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

MazzeoTilar J.

Everything but the Elves

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Collins, 265 pp., $25.95

The title refers to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin and the titular Champagne is Veuve (French for widow) Clicquot. Barbe-Nicole was a widow at age 27. Her husband left a successful winery, but Barbe-Nicole had no idea how to manage it. Through a combination of grit and ingenuity, within 10 years, she was one of the most renowned and wealthy female entrepreneurs in France. This book is largely descriptive of her successes, with just enough glamour and danger to keep us turning the pages. It's also a testament to author Mazzeo's pit-bull approach to research. Where many journalists might just drink a few bottles of the Champagne and Google "Clicquot," profes­sor Mazzeo (English, Colby College, Maine) digs through mountains of possible material, striking gold about as often as a tourist with a pan and a river. Her assemblage of those nuggets – 23% of the book's total pages are in research notes and a bibliography section – into The Widow Clicquot is a miraculous feat of organization, one worthy of a doctoral thesis. Luckily, the writing generally escapes the monotony of an academic's drone, and in its moments of action, this is actually a gripping story. And while the book appears to be a feminist history/business biography, it's also the appealing story of the author's odyssey.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More cookbook
Local Flavor
The Everything Thai Cookbook, 2nd ed.
Local chef takes the terror out of Thai

Mick Vann, June 14, 2013

Local Flavor
Paleo French Cuisine
The 10,000-year-old diet gets a French makeover

Anna Toon, June 14, 2013

More Food Reviews
Perfectly Barked Barbecue and Unlimited Hush Puppies at the Switch
Perfectly Barked Barbecue and Unlimited Hush Puppies at the Switch
The restaurant just off Highway 290 also serves up phenomenal peach cobbler

Melanie Haupt, June 21, 2019

Joann's Fine Foods Has Us Wondering How Much Is Too Much to Pay for Chicken-Fried Steak
Joann's Fine Foods Has Us Wondering How Much Is Too Much to Pay for Chicken-Fried Steak
Top-notch service and attention to detail at SoCo’s Austin Motel

Melanie Haupt, May 24, 2019

More by Wes Marshall
Weekend Wine: American Cabernet Sauvignon
Weekend Wine: American Cabernet Sauvignon
It's time for grilled steaks and old style California Napa Cabs.

June 29, 2019

Weekend Wine
Weekend Wine
Faustino’s Crianza, a bright red Rioja wine

June 15, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Christmas, cooking, cookbook, gift

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle