Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: The Apple Orchard

Well I finally managed to finish The Beekeeper's Ball, the book I told you I was reading to review. At first I wanted to just finish it, to get it done so I could write the review by the time it came out (I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the author, Susan Wiggs), but then I realized I was stressing, I wasn't enjoying the book, it was a chore, not a luxury, and I stopped. I slowed down and read the book at a pace that allowed me to savor it.

"But the title of this post is 'Book Review: The Apple Orchard,'" you say with a bewildered look on your face. "What's all this about The Beekeeper's Ball?"

Well that's why I ended up rushing in the first place. I received the ARC of The Beekeeper's Ball before I actually read The Apple Orchard, and since it drives me positively bonkers to read a series out of order, I had to read the first one first.

And since I loooooved it, I'm going to share my review with you before I review The Beekeeper's Ball, okay?

Good, now that we've got that all straightened out.....

The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs


I was hooked as soon as the back of the book informed me that this story takes place in Sonoma County. For those of you who don't know, I earned my bachelor's degree at Sonoma State University and fell head over heels in love with the area. There's something magical in those rolling hills. The smell of fresh cut grass and wildflowers, the feel of the coastal air making its way in from the Pacific Ocean, it relaxes and refreshes me in a way no other place can. When I learned that Susan Wiggs, one of my favorite authors, had written a book that took place there, I knew it would be love at first word.

And I wasn't disappointed.

Tess Delaney in your average overworked, single metropolitan girl. She has the job of her dreams at an auction house in San Francisco, and she's convinced herself that her career is all she needs to be happy.

Unconcerned with sentimentality, she skates through life without getting too attached to anyone or anything. Of course, that is, until she finds herself in the hospital with an anxiety attack and a handsome stranger who has come to tell her she has a family and a history she wasn't aware of mere miles away. 

Reluctantly, Tess boards a small airplane piloted by the handsome stranger, and heads for Archangel (the magical little town of Susan's own creation), a family she never knew she had and happiness she never realized she was missing.

Intertwined with Tess' story, we are whisked back in time to Nazi-era Denmark where the story of how Magnus (Tess' long-lost grandfather) survives the war and finds himself the proud owner of a 100-acre apple orchard in California unfolds before us.

The Apple Orchard is classic Susan Wiggs. She has a way of describing things that brings them to life on the page. You can almost see the rows of apple trees and blue skies for miles, taste the mouthwatering honeys, cheeses and cakes and smell the apple blossoms and ripening grapes that make up the Bella Vista estate.  She seamlessly mingles historical fiction with a modern love story and leaves you hungry for more, in every sense of the word.

Fortunately, there's The Beekeeper's Ball to feed that hunger.And tomorrow I'll tell you all about it.

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