BOOK CLUB: Grand Crew

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Grand Crew by Australian author Tom Crago is a very adventurous novel, indulging in the love
of wine, and travelling to beautiful places.

Casual musician Jude mid-thirties living in Melbourne had always struggled with owning the
right man-bag. His frustration led him to the point of designing his own, with the help of his
friend Bethany sewing a prototype. He had twenty made and within six weeks had sold twelve
in a store on Little Bourke Street.

Jude had no means of manufacturing large quantities, a brand name, or enough money in the
bank. When Terry Lee, Director of Neufco Proprietary Limited emailed Jude after seeing his
bag to discuss owning the rights to manufacturing it a business lunch was set up.

Jude asked his good friend Rob, a lawyer to assist with the business dealings. Two hours later Jude is a millionaire signing over the rights with conditions.

With a love of wine and restaurants, Jude follows his passion and ventures to Paris. Whilst there
he is given the opportunity to open a Melbourne outpost and create a well-rounded wine list to reflect the food, ambiance, and personality of the bistro.

Grand Crew tells a tale about dedication. The main character committed himself to goals and
excelled, which is an admirable trait. Tom Crago did an excellent job developing Jude and
displaying his inner strength, boldness, and weaknesses. He is a great character who you
sometimes dislike and sometimes root for.

The dialogue flowed wonderfully and with great care in how it reflected on each character and
the book as a whole. I like the balanced approach because the characters seemed very real,
each giving themselves to the story and the roles they played in Jude’s life. I also enjoyed the
emphasis the author placed on the romance portion of the novel and Jude’s feelings towards his
best friend.

The book is unique and original with footnotes to help readers connect with the contents. The book can also be considered a valuable source of information with a list of wines included for anyone wanting to learn a little more about the hobby of wine collecting or for drinking.

I enjoyed the book in parts but did lose interest with all the wine talk. I don’t like or drink wine hence this book was not for me. If the reader isn’t interested in delving that deeply into the names of wines and notes, those parts can be easily skimmed to get to the juicy bits.

I am positively sure a wine geek will love Grand Crew and most likely recognise large chunks of themself in the author’s narrative as they are drinking a fine wine!

Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Hardie Grant Media for the opportunity to read and review.

ISBN: 9781743798850
Copy courtesy of publisher: Hardie Grant Media

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Grand Crew by Tom Crago. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Grand Crew

  1. This book was bizarre! An ode to wine, an absurdly funny psychedelic trip on wine with a kaleidoscope of wine memories.
    Jude is a 30 something wine buff, money and opportunities seem to fall into his lap as he drifts through life in a wine induced haze.
    Narrated in first person by Jude it reads a bit like a memoir. Jude muses about his life and the wines that have played a significant roll in it. Like we use photos for memories Jude uses wine.
    One of The Grand Crew, a group of like minded wine buffs, matches wine to people. A twist on matching wine to food. The members of the crew pop in and out of the story however I never got a reel feel for any of them. It was the supporting characters Bruno, the restaurateur in Paris, Maurice, the Parisian truffle farmer, and Vincent, a Melbourne business man, that gave the book a noir-ish feel. ‘Wine noir’ – is that a thing?
    I don’t drink wine so all the mentions of wine were lost on me. Grand Crew is a book I am sure will be enjoyed by wine lovers or those that simply enjoy a wild ride. (3 stars)

  2. Grand Crew by Tom Crago, is the story of Jude, a thirty something wine geek who unexpectedly finds himself enlisted to open a French Bistro in Melbourne. He has a goal to have a one page wine list that only includes Australian wines. Jude and his group of friends (dubbed the Grand Crew) have numerous get togethers with many bottles of wine in the quest to create the perfect wine list. Throw in trips to Paris, a truffle festival, some dubious wine along with some quirky characters in a truffle farmer from France, a property developer who looks more like a boxer, and some loyal, supportive friends, and this is a decent read. It reads like a memoir and could like the blurb on the back of the book says, be the “ultimate (complicated) love letter to Australian wine.

    While, I myself don’t drink a lot of wine, I am related to someone who, along with his group of friends, could well be a part of the Grand Crew. I have either visited the winery, tasted or been talked at about almost every wine that made it onto the wine list Jude was creating. And as I was reading this book, I kept thinking which of Jude’s friends was which of my husbands friends.

    If you are not into wine, or are not at all familiar with ‘wine speak’ then this book could be a hard slog, but if you know your wine varietals, have an opinion on Grange versus Hill Of Grace, or you know someone who does, then I think you will enjoy this book. My husband the wine snob who doesn’t read much is very keen to read this book – with a glass of wine in hand!

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Hardie Grant Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  3. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Hardie Grant books for the opportunity to review ‘Grand Crew’ by Tom Crago.
    This book was an education on wines and the best time to drink especially wines! Although for the characters in this book anytime was the right time!
    Jude (in his 30’s) a musician, and inventor and designer of a ‘man bag’ has the good fortune to sell his design for a considerable sum of money.
    He trapeses off to Paris (his sixth time) where he has contacts (part of the Crew) dines, plays poker and drinks the best of wines and eats the best of food too.
    In the back of the book you’ll see the names of the wines mentioned, most top quality, and if you’re not already a wine connoisseur you certainly will be after reading this book!

  4. Tom Crago’s Grand Crew is a wild and unexpected adventure through friendship, food and drink, and travel and at its core a homage to wine. Following some unexpected good fortune, Jude embarks upon a trip to some may say the centre of the wine world, Paris, which seeds the vision of a local Melbourne food and wine destination. We meet a variety of Jude’s friends, a diverse cast of characters bonded through a mutual appreciation of wine, and enjoy a rollicking ride involving late night poker, illegal truffle markets and a funeral to boot. The book is peppered with wines of various vineyards and vintages, many of which I was previously unfamiliar with, not being a wine connoisseur. However, this did not impact on enjoyment of the story, and I imagine would make for a very enjoyable read for more knowledgable wine lovers! Thanks to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this original book!

  5. Melbourne, Paris, Wine, Good Food… what’s not to love?

    Grand Crew by Tom Crago is all about wine but it’s also about friendship, determination and triumph. Living in Melbourne, in his thirties, Jude designs a man bag and with the help of his friend Bethany, the bag is a success. So much of a success, that Jude becomes an instant millionaire after selling his rights to it. Circumstances then lead him to the opportunity to open a new restaurant with the help of friends and to create a wine list for it.

    With plenty of footnotes throughout, Tom Crago has written an interesting and very unique novel. All the characters felt real and I enjoyed the little bits of humour thrown in every now and then. I did feel a little lost with all the talk of wine, but overall this was an interesting read.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Hardie Grant Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  6. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Hardie Grant books for the opportunity to review ‘Grand Crew’ by Tom Crago. This book is quite a ride and a fun read.

    From man bag designer to instant millionaire Jude is on a rollercoaster fuelled by Australian wine and his close friendships. The Australian wines dominate his life but can a hot new bistro in Paris only have Australian wine??

    The story of Jude his friends, the luck he has and the challenges he faces makes for a memorable read. Having an understanding of wines would help any potential reader but the story rolls along so brilliantly its not really necessary.

    A fun and engaging book I would recommended Grand Crew to any potential reader!

    Thanks again,

  7. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Hardie Grant books for the opportunity to review ‘Grand Crew’ by Tom Crago. It took me awhile to really get into the book and unfortunately all the wine references were lost on me.
    From designing a man bag to becoming a millionaire we are taken on an interesting ride of Jude’s life.

  8. Thank you for the copy of Grand Crew by Tom Crago.

    This is certainly a different sort of book for me, being about wine, people and food, and pairing all these together. Being a non-wine drinker made it a different experience.

    It is the story of Jude who has a few jobs in different areas including music and decides to make a new bag for men. This is picked up and makes him very rich. Through his friends and a series of adventures he travels to France and there is gambling, truffles and wine experiences galore. Through these he is tasked with opening a French style eatery in Australia with an emphasis on the wine list. I have heard of more of these wines, although I don’t know the ins and outs of them. it was good to see how all Jude’s friends in the Grand Crew and his acquaintances met via wine came together and impacted his life. The notes were interesting, but could be confusing if I missed one. I enjoyed this book once it got a bit more story orientated and not quite as much on the wines (although they always featured to a degree).

    This would be great for wine lovers or those wanting to learn, or those willing to take a chance on something a bit different.

  9. What a fascinating albeit kinda weird read! I’m still debating on whether I actually enjoyed it or not… I found the wine information the fascinating part and loved learning about wines and varieties I had never heard of before. I have now even gone and tried some! The rest of the story was where is got weird. The story was strange and jumped a bit. I found the language in their day to day conversations hard to follow. Do people really speak like this? I’m assuming so and wow I guess I’m just from a different world. The romantic part to the story was nice but once again I got a bit lost with the language so it all seemed a little unrealistic. all in all, it’s definitely different… I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. Fab read for wine buffs though!

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