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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs

The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs

Sometimes you stumble across a treasure when you're looking for something else entirely.
Susan Wiggs started writing at the young age of 8. Her first book was published in the 1987 and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Warner and Mira Books.  Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the literary institution Fields End and the legendary Maui Writers Conference. She has won three RITA awards; a few RWA Favorite book of the year awards as well as appearing regularly on numerous ‘best of’ lists.

I picked up my first Wiggs novel many many years ago and quickly became a fan, devouring each novel I read. Most recently my mother declared she couldn’t get enough of Susan Wiggs. I have never known my mother to indulge in the “romance fiction” genre written like Wiggs but was pleasantly surprised at her enthusiasm.  It prompted me to revisit Wiggs’ book list to see if any of her current novels fit into my “reading for pleasure” criteria.

Sure enough, “The Apple Orchard” is her latest in a new series called Bella Vista Chronicles. I started it over my lunch hour one day at work and proceeded to finish the book in its entirety that same evening. I can’t recall the last time I read for 4 hours straight, unable to tear myself away, devouring every word.

“The Apple Orchard”, which is the first part of a three part series, has some unique and captivating qualities. At the beginning of each chapter Wiggs provides a scrumptious recipe, none of which I tried but am tempted to borrow the book again just to try a few of them for a taste test. It appeals to different genres readers as it has elements of mystery and suspense, sprinkled with a dash of romance. The story with the many twists and turns of the plot wasn’t so much a romance story as a family story. Parts of the book are set in the past, in war-torn Denmark. This was very believable and gave the book a more exotic and serious atmosphere. It was interesting to see how this part of the story connected up with the modern time.

If you want to curl up with a cup of tea and get lost in a book for a few hours, Wiggs tells a layered, powerful story of love, loss, hope and redemption that you will most likely become captivated by.
Also available as an eBook
Review by Naomi Vancaillee, community librarian at the Peachland Branch

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