Review by Victor R. Volkman
Fans of Terri Martin’s serialized stories in UP Magazine, published monthly by Porcupine Press, will be thrilled to see a new novelization of them in the just-released book High on the Vine. This is her second humor anthology following Church Lady Chronicles: Devilish Encounters. Although this story also takes place in the mythical town of Budworm, Michigan somewhere in the U.P., High on the Vine features a brand-new cast of characters. The protagonists, Tami and Evi Maki, are Yoopers by marriage only owing to some drunken revelry following a downstate wedding they both attended. The two women became enamored of the two brothers Toivo and Eino Maki and were quickly whisked off to the U.P. after their own nuptials. Fast forward a few years–both women have become extremely bored housewives and long to break their economic dependence on the Maki brothers who seem to spend all their time idling at their hunting camp or the local bar. Regardless of what Toivo and Eino are up to, it never ends with bringing home a paycheck.
The storyline of High on the Vine follows the exploits of Tami and Evi as they parlay one highly unlikely business venture into another in search of financial independence from the brothers Maki. In a fit of pique, the two women decide to commandeer the Maki hunting camp and transform it into “Camp She-Shed” complete with a pink outhouse, a Queen Anne dinette set, lace curtains, a two-burner propane stove for the kitchen area, and doilies all around. Easily bored Evi quickly gets the idea to turn the camp into “Rustic Pleasures”, a getaway for families who want a vacation literally unplugged from the world. A little while later the camp is leased to an Amish family who run a chicken farm on behalf of the women, stocked with chickens that the Maki brothers won in a card game.
While the egg money is nice, the women decide they can really cash in with an Amish cookbook. However, the Amish eventually move out and they rent the camp to the Sylvan Brotherhood of Benevolent Monks for an off-the-grid retreat. The monks eventually buy the property to convert it into a winery and the women use the proceeds to setup a genuine tourist trap giftshop in town—the Wickiup Wine and Fudge Shoppe. There’s almost nothing Tami and Evi won’t try after finishing another box of wine!
My favorite episode from the book involves Tami and Evi dealing with the band of misogynistic monks who have a line of wines with names like “Resurrection Red Rosé”, “White Infidel”, “Pinot Gristly”, and “He is Riesling”. Terri Martin gets to show off her propensity for puns the best when Evi gets drunk at their weekly “teatime” which starts with boxed wine and ends with her passing out, most often. If you like a good chuckle about Yooper foibles and follies, I highly recommend High on the Vine by Terri Martin. Be sure to enjoy it with a bottle of your favorite beverage for best effect! The book is most easily obtained from the author’s site www.TerriLynnMartin.com.