Saturday, April 27, 2013
The Apple Orchard ~ Review
Author: Susan Wiggs
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.
I remember visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and standing in front of an exhibit with a boat. The exhibit was dedicated to Denmark during World War II, and how they saved almost all of the population of Jewish people. They rowed their people to safety under the cover of night. I was struck by the heroics of this nation. The Denmark Rescue saved 7,200 people, a momentous act of bravery and compassion.
The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs includes some of this history. She handled this sensitively, and with the respect that the subject needs. She did not reduce it to some literary device or add it to give the book more weight. It added to the book in a way that taught as well as told the back story.
That being said, there were lots of twists and turns to the book. I thought for a minute that it was going to be like The Parent Trap, and then the story spun down a different path. There were a few loose ends that I didn't feel were resolved, but this looks to be the first in a series, so perhaps resolution will occur in the following books. There was also a scene that didn't make sense- all of a sudden a character is in the story in a part he wasn't before, without being introduced into that scene. It was very confusing for a second!
I thought the characters were fun and diverse, and I liked them all, but I liked Isabel the best. I hope we get to know her better in the future, but for now, I enjoyed reading about her cooking and baking. Their were some delicious sounding recipes at the beginning of each chapter - some of them made me long for summer even more than I already do. I could imagine reading this book in my yard, enjoying the sun eating fresh tomato slices and drinking Pellegrino. Or a Californian Pinot Grigio. Yum!
Overall I think this book has a lot to offer -mystery, romance, history. If you like any of this in the books you read, give this book a try.