“Do take what I owe from these notes. And do remunerate yourselves for the trouble and inconvenience I may be causing you. Please convey my sincere apologies to my fellow guests for any disturbance.
How much of this I actually managed to speak out loud, I do not know, but the notes were snatched from my hand. I found that if I moved my head a little to the left I could pillow it on the head waiter’s shoes. They were black and well polished and surprisingly comfortable to nestle against.
So ends the first chapter of The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce, as the title character finishes a meal comprising the odd forkful of lamb and two bottles of 1982 Château Pétrus, at a mere £3,000 a pop.
What follows is an intelligently crafted tale, told in reverse order as the pieces of an ultimately tragic story unfold, of a self-made millionaire succumbing to the irresistible indulgence of an inherited cellar of fine wine.
This is the second novel by Paul Torday, debutant author in 2006 with the critically acclaimed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Torday admits in his short postscript to not being a wine expert, relying on Robert Parker’s Bordeaux: The Comprehensive Guide to describe Wilberforce’s primary fixation, but there’s more than enough gloriously colourful prose to have wine fans aching for a big glass of claret.
Whether you’re a wine lover or not, for an indulgent, evocative and ultimately very enjoyable read, treat yourself to the irresistible Wilberforce.
See my rating on Loudervoice.