“Sometimes you stumble across a treasure when you’re looking for something else entirely.”#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs brings readers to the lush abundance of Sonoma County in a novel of sisters, friendship and how memories are woven like a spell around us.
Tess Delaney makes a living restoring stolen treasures to their rightful owners. People like Annelise Winther, who refuses to sell her long-gone mother’s beloved necklace—despite Tess’s advice. To Annelise, the jewel’s value is in its memories.
But Tess’s own history is filled with gaps: a father she never met, a mother who spent more time traveling than with her daughter. So Tess is shocked when she discovers the grandfather she never knew is in a coma. And that she has been named in his will to inherit half of Bella Vista, a hundred-acre apple orchard in the magical Sonoma town called Archangel.
The rest is willed to Isabel Johansen. A half sister she’s never heard of.
Against the rich landscape of Bella Vista, Tess begins to discover a world filled with the simple pleasures of food and family, of the warm earth beneath her bare feet. A world where family comes first and the roots of history run deep. A place where falling in love is not only possible, but inevitable.
And in a season filled with new experiences, Tess begins to see the truth in something Annelise once told her: if you don’t believe memories are worth more than money, then perhaps you’ve not made the right kind of memories.
From one of America’s most beloved writers, The Apple Orchard is a story of family ties—both old and new—and of the moments that connect our hearts.
(Image and Synopsis from NetGalley)
This was my first read of a Susan Wiggs’ book. Please don’t ask me where I’ve been while this prolific author has written and published what seem to be great books. After reading The Apple Orchard, this will not be my last Susan Wiggs’ book.
The first chapter captured my attention immediately. So beautifully written with a landscape painted as if the author were standing at an easel, palette in hand, brushing strokes across a canvas. To be able to write so descriptively is a gift, yes, but must be practiced faithfully to be so well executed.
The Apple Orchard centers around a family with unknown history, missing relationships, relationships on the verge of being lost, and a young woman, Tess Delaney, who is often at the center of all these familial mysteries. Successful, bright and upwardly mobile in her career, Tess seems to have at all as the book opens.
Suddenly a shift change occurs when Tess is drawn into a family dynamic she knows nothing about quite unexpectedly. She finds a grandfather whom she has never met lying in a coma, and a half-sister she didn’t know she had taking care of a home and orchard, half of which will be left to Tess if their grandfather dies.
As Tess spends more time at Bella Vista, her grandfather’s home and orchard, she begins to learn the joys of simple pleasures, the stepping away from the hectic life of her career, and more about the love of family.
Woven throughout Tess’s story are references to the history of our country’s involvement in World War II. The author delicately treats the issues surrounding the Holocaust with grace and dignity.
This is a book about relationships, families, love, gifts of simple living, the joy of being a part of a whole. Susan Wiggs created a family any one should be happy to drop into, and never have to leave.
Especially moving for me was the relationship that evolved between Tess and her newly found half-sister, Isabel. This relationship was treated with the hesitancy and trepidation one might initially feel. Yet, step-by-step the two young women began to see into the other’s soul, picking out strengths and gifts to be appreciated not from afar but up close. I suppose my enjoyment came from being a half-sister to two half-sisters who never made the effort. Vicariously I thrilled at the blossoming of this sisterly love.
BOTTOM LINE: Susan Wiggs has crafted an incredible work on a theme that speaks to any number of people living in a family or relationship. The characters are rich and full, and the landscapes and descriptions absolutely delectable. I cannot say any more than you should read this book!
DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from Harlequin MIRA via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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MEET THE AUTHOR:
Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers’ group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field’s End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world’s top authors to her seaside community. (See http://www.fieldsend.org) She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.
According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with “refreshingly honest emotion,” and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is “one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book.” Booklist characterizes her books as “real and true and unforgettable.” She is the recipient of three RITA (sm) awards and four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly for her books. The Winter Lodge and Passing Through Paradise have appeared on PW’s annual “Best Of” lists. Several of her books have been listed as top Booksense picks and optioned as feature films. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have made national bestseller lists, including the USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times lists.
The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. Readers can learn more on the web at www.susanwiggs.com and on her lively blog at www.susanwiggs.wordpress.com.(Author bio and photo from Goodreads) NEXT POST: Announcing a giveaway on July 22nd.