Book Review: THE APPLE ORCHARD by Susan Wiggs


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The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs is delicious.  I love, love, loved this book.  It is like being transported to the wine country of Sonoma County, CA for a perfect, epicurean feast. . .beautiful, relaxed, satisfying, delightful. . .a fabulous blend of history, mystery, love, and inspiration.  I think it would make a wonderful movie.

The book was inspired by a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and Ms. Wiggs’ love of Sonoma County where many Danish Holocaust survivors settled after World War II.  One of the many mysteries is a missing Fabregé egg which Magnus Johansen hid from the Nazis during their raid on his childhood home in Copenhagen, Denmark:

. . .life had taught him long ago that fear and happiness could not coexist.

Fabrege Egg

Fabrege Egg

He was showing her his dream,
the same way she’d shown her dream to him in the abandoned shop.
Dreams changed a person. . .
having a powerful dream made you vulnerable to failure and disappointment.
– Susan Wiggs, The Apple Orchard

Love and family are the central themes of all of Susan Wiggs’ books.  The Apple Orchard is her most evolved and empowered novel so far.  The characters are credible, and her insights are wise.  Each character is on a quest to heal a heart broken by unrequited love.  Tess Delaney loves her career, but she has a hole in her heart for the father she never knew (he died before she was born).  She longs for family and has no idea that she has a sister, Isabel Johansen.  Isabel loves the family’s apple orchard, Bella Vista, which is about to be lost via foreclosure.

AppleOrchard_1937-21

Nobody can fix another person.
But everybody tries.
– Susan Wiggs, The Apple Orchard

Of course, there’s a sexy, handsome, brilliant neighbor, Dominic Rossi, who loves his children and making wine but works in a bank to provide his family with financial stability.  His ex-wife, attorney Lourdes Moldonado, interjects complicated issues so many of us have faced.

Her grandfather gave Bella Vista to Magnus Johansen after World War II.  Flashbacks to the Danish Resistance substantially enhanced and enriched the liberating flavor of the story.  Because I hope you’ll savor The Apple Orchard as much as I did, I’m not going to reveal any more plot twists.  It’s a fabulous book, and I was delighted to learn this morning that there will be a sequel.

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