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.
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.
The book blurb for The Apple Orchard speaks of life’s memories being woven around us like a spell. The Apple Orchard does indeed have a lot of threads sewn and woven together. It could have easily been very overdramatic with all these little offshoots of the story growing each and every way. And in lesser hands, it probably would have been. However, Susan Wiggs has managed to mold these competing stories into something quite lovely and compelling.
There is a wonderful mix of emotion and humour in The Apple Orchard. I particularly love the way in which the locations are described – so vivid you could close your eyes and just about imagine you are in the orchard.
Tess has had the order of her life turned upside-down. Within a short period, she learns she has inherited half an apple orchard, finds out she has a grandfather and a half-sister she knew nothing of previously & has a major health scare. You could almost excuse her if she completely flipped out.
However, in Tess, Susan Wiggs has created a wonderful strong character and despite the shocks to her system, she beings to find something about herself and how she wants to live her life.
What I enjoyed about how Tess’ growth as a person was handled was that she didn’t immediately experience a “come-to-Jesus” moment upon arriving in Archangel and decide she was never going anywhere else. She definitely sensed a feeling of belonging there, but still had to work through a lot before making decisions like that.
Tess’ relationship with the sexy banker/vintner Dominic is also really well constructed. There was definitely chemistry and a fairly instant attraction, however they didn’t jump straight into sexytimes.
The supporting characters are a big part of what made The Apple Orchard a joy to read for me. Dominic’s children seemed like normal kids – not just plot fillers. Their mother, and Dominic’s ex, Lourdes – now she was quite villainous, however her past leads some way to understanding why she behaves the way she does.
I loved learning about Magnus & Anneliese and Eva through the flashbacks and finding out why things happened as they did.
Isabel, Tess’ half-sister was wonderful and real and very human, and I would be more than pleased to find out more about her and her own past (hint, hint Ms Wiggs!)
The Apple Orchard is a beautifully written story about the power of love and family, secrets and how each of these is woven together. I do hope we get to revisit Archangel again soon.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Release Date: 30 April 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy by MIRA, an imprint of Harlequin via NetGalley in return for an honest review.