Tasting Sunlight

Autumn fruit. Pears, apples, grapes… the orchards and vineyards are bursting with golden light. Yet the light is fading. The first frost bites.

That’s the English title for you, Tasting Sunlight. But in German, Ewald Arenz called it Alte Sorten, which you could translate as old types or heirloom varieties. The setting is old, for sure. Ancient landscape where people have tended farms, orchards, and vineyards for generations. If you have land there, you’re secure. Or so it seems.

A young woman arrives in the vineyard on foot looking anything but secure. Phone left behind in that horrible room, only a small rucksack on her back. Why is she on the run? And what makes her stop to help that older woman get her vehicle out of a rut? If she stays, will she soon be stuck in a rut, too?

I don’t want to reveal much more of the plot. This is an intense encounter between such different women – teenage and middle-aged, restless and settled, urban and rural. As their story unfolds, so do their similarities. And their bond strengthens. Darkness in both their pasts comes to light. And the gate opens into a secret garden, overgrown and wild, fruitful and beautiful.

Listen to Rachel Ward reading from the book for Translators Aloud. We were delighted to have her speak about her translation at the ITI German Network book club. It was our second meeting with translators who don’t speak German, because they could read Rachel’s English. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! You can see why Tasting Sunlight was on the German bestseller list for three years. And this is the perfect time to read it, as the leaves turn gold, before they fall.

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