Friday, May 31, 2013

The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs

4 Star

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.

Kathryn - 4 Star

A mysterious family, a love story and a bit of historical education is what makes up The Apple Orchard. It was a slow grow on me but by the end I was hooked and entranced by everything from the characters to the actual orchard (although I haven’t been so entranced as to try any of the recipes scattered throughout the story- perhaps I’ll leave that to the world’s actual cooks and bakers). 

It took some time for me to warm up to Tess- she obviously had an unusual upbringing without the perceived warmth of her mother and the added frustration of knowing nothing about her father or his family. Although we know she’s looking for stability and love, when it’s suddenly thrown at her, just when her career is finally reaching the pinnacle, she struggles to keep one foot in each part of her life.  Her fascinating job of returning treasures to their owners is a part of her mother and maternal grandmother’s history so it was easy to understand how it would be hard to leave it aside. But the draw of a possible family she’s never met is overpowering.  Tess grew on me the instant she arrived at Bella Vista- her sister Isabel is quietly soft and welcoming and immediately treats her as if she’s always been around.  I found their relationship’s evolvement a bit strange, it seemed to me as if there should have been more talking and less cooking, but Isabel’s personality is so accepting that perhaps she didn’t feel talk to be necessary.  As the reader though I feel Isabel hasn’t been properly defined yet.  It looks like it might be the first in a series so I could happily read the next one and find out some more about Isabel and their father Eric too.

Tess’ grandfather’s history during the Nazi occupation of Denmark was fascinating and well woven into the present. I gradually came to feel as if I knew him from his past as we are not given any present contact with him.  I’m so glad Susan Wiggs included this piece of the past in her novel.  

Our love story between Tess and Dominic was sweet and honest- I liked him immensely but there’s not much to dislike about a handsome single father with altruistic tendencies!

I really enjoyed The Apple Orchard and hope that there will be more to come- with as many twists and turns as the first novel.

Thank you to Etch Communications for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Susan Wiggs here:

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