Title: The Apple Orchard
Author: Susan Wiggs
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Tess Delaney works for an auction house in California, and she’s one of the best in her field. She loves the thrills of tracking down a lost or stolen item; these highs help mask the fact that her personal life is less than stellar. So when Tess receives a handsome visitor who tells her that her grandfather has had an accident, though he’s still alive, she’s shocked. After all, she didn’t know about this grandfather, nor was she aware she had a half sister. Tess travels to beautiful Bella Vista, an apple orchard in Sonoma Valley, to meet her family and discover the truth behind her past.
The Apple Orchard is a breezy novel with an absolutely gorgeous setting. Wiggs spares no description in this novel; her details are vivid, and the reader will absolutely be able to close their eyes and see the expanses of Bella Vista. What’s more, Wiggs also describes food in mouthwatering detail. This is a great novel to pick up when you’re in need of a vacation; it has an escapist feel, and the storyline as a whole has a “fairy tale” vibe.
Tess starts out as a difficult character in The Apple Orchard. She’s very wound up and seems closed off, but as the novel progresses, Tess relaxes a bit and allows the reader to get to know her. There’s a lot of mystery initially about who this family is and why Tess has never heard anything about them, and while it the explanation is believable, it’s a bit of a letdown. Still, it’s fun to see Tess get to know her new sister and experience a completely different life at Bella Vista.
As the novel progresses, the reader sees that there’s a more important mystery hidden within the pages of The Apple Orchard, a puzzle that goes back to Tess’ grandfather’s past and Nazi Europe. This gives the novel some added depth and is interesting, though the sudden transitions between narrators can be a bit jarring. The reader will quickly see where the narrative is heading, towards a sort of “saves the day” ending. Unfortunately, this fairy tale nature of the book didn’t sit as well with me, and as a result, I felt like it dragged a bit.
With well-written characters and a beautifully described setting, The Apple Orchard would be a great choice for someone looking for escapist fare. While parts of the novel didn’t work as well for me, overall it was an interesting read with plenty of twists and turns with some history thrown in for good measure.
Other books by Susan Wiggs: