Pandora's Bottle

By Joanne Sydney Lessner
Publisher:Flint Mine Press, (6/12/2010)

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (5 Clubie's ratings)

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What happens when you pin all your hopes on a single event and it all goes terribly wrong? When that event is the uncorking of a fabled bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite once owned by Thomas Jefferson, the repercussions are emotional, financial, theatrical and, in every way, unexpected. In this tale of hubris and redemption, aspiration and perseverance, Joanne Sydney Lessner provides a provocative glimpse into the world of fine wine, from the whirl of New York City haute cuisine to the historic vineyards of the Hudson Valley. When Sy Hampton purchases this legendary bottle which, through a quirk of preservation, may yet be drinkable he shocks the wine community by choosing to uncork it privately with a female companion, rather than at a special public event. Sy intends the evening to be a quiet reassertion of his virility in the throes of middle age, but for ambitious restaurateur Annette Lecocq, the event offers an irresistible opportunity for much-needed publicity. Their competing agendas are not the only things to collide on the fateful night. Caught in the crossfire are Tripp Macgregor, a waiter on the verge of his long-awaited Broadway debut, and Valentina D Ambrosio, the beautiful but unworldly working girl from Brooklyn Sy hopes to impress.

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Bill Garrity's thoughts on "Pandora's Bottle"
updated on:8/18/2013

This book was such a fun read! 
The subplots were well thought out and put together seamlessly; there was comedy, drama, romance, intrigue - just a great roller coaster of a book.
One of the things I liked most was all the funny throw-away lines and hilarious perspectives.
And it was heart warming.
I highly recommend Joanne Lessner's Pandora's Bottle.


Firebird's thoughts on "Pandora's Bottle"
updated on:8/17/2013

One of the most consistently enjoyable recent works of fiction I've read. Works beautifully on multiple levels and keeps you engaged its entire spectrum of colorful characters. Very impressive debut and perfect book club choice.


Kit's thoughts on "Pandora's Bottle"
updated on:8/17/2013

Quick, entertaining read with quirky characters, surprising plot twists and an engaging narrative style. Some fun insight into the restaurant/wine world and also New York theater. Really enjoyed it and looking forward to more by this author.


Helen's thoughts on "Pandora's Bottle"
updated on:1/1/1900

What a delightful book! I loved the way the four characters' lives intertwined, and the peek into the world of fine wine was fascinating. Some of it is truly funny--I laughed out loud several times--but there's also a thoughtfulness underlying the story as the characters face what they imagine to be their worst scenarios and grow and move past them in surprising ways. I highly recommend it!


Peggy Sherertz's thoughts on "Pandora's Bottle"
updated on:1/1/1900

 I LOVED this book.  Joanne Lessner kept me enthralled from the first page to the last. Buy it, read it, enjoy it!  Peggy Sherertz


"Pandora's Bottle"
By Joanne Sydney Lessner

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (5 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

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Library Life - Joanne Lessner from Gloria Goverman on Vimeo.

Telling Stories:


"Lessner takes this incident and runs with it, embellishing and exaggerating, then adding a diverse cast of characters, to produce a delightful romp. Take a few middle-aged oenophiles, a young woman with the seductive name of Valentina D’Ambrosio, a waiter/dancer named Tripp, an ambitious French-Canadian restaurateur, a young boy named Eric and mix well. Add some mistaken identity, a couple strong Brooklynaccents, and dashes of naivete, romance and suspense to spice things up. Finish with a large helping of humour and enjoy."

--Book Discovery

"The events of the uncorking lead to deep soul searching in all the characters and each of them goes through their own version of psychological death and resurrection. It is this that makes this book so powerful. This isn’t just a pretty story. It’s gutsy, meaningful and moving, and provides a clear mirror for us to evaluate our own lives in. This is what the best fiction does." 
--Awesome Indies

"The author's style of writing had me feel as though I was right there with the characters. This allowed me to be sucked into the book very quickly. The book also had a warmth to it, while having moments of sarcastic wit shown through supporting characters. I found myself laughing out loud."
--A Book and A Review

"Pandora's Bottle is as delicious as a vintage Château Lafite and almost as rare--a novel that is as entertaining as it is smart. Joanne Sydney Lessner serves it with just the right dish of human folly." 
--Marc Acito, author of How I Paid for College and Attack of the Theater People

"Lessner has served up a bubbly, big-haired and big-hearted opus magnum, redolent of the vanities of New York, with a whiff of Wodehouse and a dash of Dickens, full of raucous overtones but with a gentle finish. Drinkable immediately!" 
--Jonathan Levi, Author of A Guide for the Perplexed and Co-Founder of Granta

"Joanne Sydney Lessner has carefully crafted a well-wrought, fun, and fast-paced book detailing the highs and lows of the wine world. A great read." 
--Carlo De Vito, author of East Coast Wineries and 10 Secrets My Dog Taught Me


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“The etchings,” declared Sy. “There they are. Do you see? Château Lafitte 1787. Th. J. for Thomas Jefferson. And the crescent. Pichard’s secret code—his message to the future, his time capsule. This wine should be a treasure for the ages. And it’s for you and me. And nobody else.”
He spoke the last words with such force that there could be no doubt about his meaning. Now Sy picked up the corkscrew. The wine was like an old friend, and for a brief moment, he felt guilty about violating it. But all friends served a purpose, and this one was no exception.
With every eye in the room on him, Sy cut away his replacement capsule. Ever so gently, he pointed the corkscrew into the old cork, slowly coaxing it up. At first, the cork didn’t want to leave its hous- ing, but finally the top half came free and slid out soundlessly. Sy set it on the table. Tipping the bottle slightly, he edged the corkscrew back in to detach the remaining bit of cork. He got part of it out, but the rest dropped back into the bottle. Sy lifted the bottle to his nose and breathed. The luscious aroma of earth, chocolate, fruit, and smoke was dizzying. Sheer, unadulterated desire overtook him, and his entire body grew weak.
“Tripp, would you?” asked Sy, indicating the crystal rod and decanter.
“Of course,” the waiter answered.
Sy handed him the bottle.

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Joanne Sydney Lessner is the author of Pandora’s Bottle, a novel inspired by the true story of the world's most expensive bottle of wine, which Paperback Dolls named one of the top five books of 2010. She has also written two mysteries featuring Isobel Spice, aspiring actress/office temp turned amateur sleuth: BloodWrites Award-Winner The Temporary Detective and the recently released Bad Publicity. No stranger to the theatrical world, Joanne enjoys an active performing career, and with her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, has co-authored several musicals, including the cult hit Fermat’s Last Tango and Einstein’s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010. She is a graduate of Yale University and a regular contributor to Opera News.

Interview with Author Joanne Lessner - Author of Pandora's Bottle

10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

My husband remembered hearing about a waiter at the Four Seasons Restaurant who dropped a half-million dollar bottle of Bordeaux dating back to the French Revolution. The bottle shattered, and the wine spilled all over the carpet. But what grabbed my imagination was the image of a room full of snobby wine aficionados diving to the floor to lick it up. I thought that was pretty hilarious and bizarre. From there, I started asking myself what kind of person spends that much money on one bottle of wine, and what would it feel like to lose it at the critical moment? Also, how would it feel if you were the waiter? And it grew from there. Click here to read more of the interview.

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