From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past—and the promise of the future.
Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes.
Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.
Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.
Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.
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An intriguing introduction to Susan Wiggs writing,
Told in a series of flashbacks and dream-like sequences, the story of Annie Harlow is one rife with choices of one thing over another, and resulted in a large bag full of what if’s. Waking from a year in a coma after an accident, Annie realizes that she’s no longer pregnant, married or has a show. Her husband had been having an affair, and when she was injured, he moved up and on with his life, ignoring her.
She’s back in Switchback Vermont, where she grew up and learned her love of cooking from her grandmother. The little town she grew up in is loaded with memories, good and bad, and plenty of choices made that weren’t always the best. Looking back on those choices, where she has been, and how other influences set her on paths to left and right. What she has now is new options: a chance to reconnect with her first love, and perhaps even a chance at discovering the answers to the what-ifs that creep in to everyone’s life.
I was expecting a simpler and lighter story, full of the newly gained second chances coming to Annie. When you add in the return to her hometown where everyone knew the child she was, the coming home is tempered by the memories, reflections on choices and a truly emotionally vulnerable Annie, with a chance to form her life in ways she desires. There is a certain heaviness to the overall tone that I didn’t see coming in a story that essentially boils down to a second chance at all of the decisions made years ago, to get a different result.
A perfect choice for a book club read: many eyes and experiences on the story will heighten the insights into the story, provide alternative reasons for choices and even a chance at shared commiseration at the low points. An intriguing introduction to Susan Wiggs writing, I was tearing through the pages as I hoped for her happy ending.
I received an Arc of the title from the publishers for purpose of honest review via Avon Addicts. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Interesting Book, Great Writer
FAMILY TREE by Susan Wiggs is the intriguing story of Annie Rush's new beginning, both physically and emotionally. One DAY Annie's living in L.A., the happy producer of her husband's (Martin) successful cooking show, "A Key Ingredient", and the next YEAR, she's waking up from a coma where her whole life is different. Not only is she having to relearn everyday activities, like walking and talking, she's also trying to remember the bits and pieces of her past and how she ended up back in her hometown of Switchback, VT. Luckily she has her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and her four nieces and nephews to help in her recovery. Another person invested in her healing is single father, Fletcher Wyndham, the high school sweetheart she left behind to pursue her dreams.
I really liked this book. The author does a great job creating complex and sympathetic characters and allows the reader to get glimpses of Annie's life as she remembers bits and pieces of her past. All her family is important to her, but it's the memories of her interactions with her grandmother that show how huge an influence she was on Annie's dreams and ultimate decisions. And as she heals, Annie realizes how important her hometown has been in her life.
The only con to this story is the frequent jumps back and forth from NOW and THEN, the reason why I gave it 4 stars. But I understand that to follow Annie's recovery through her eyes, the reader needs to understand how her memories are necessary to her improving health and to frame her future choices.
I recommend FAMILY TREE to fans of character-driven stories and anyone who likes a feel-good book. The unusual storyline is refreshing, and the plots and subplots nicely flow to a satisfying conclusion. And you can't go wrong with a Susan Wiggs book!
If You Like This, You Might Also Like: ROSE HARBOR SERIES by Debbie Macomber, BLUE HERON series by Kristan Higgins, ON THE ROCKS and BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy, HERE'S TO US by Elin Hilderbrand, SO CLOSE by Emma McLaughlin, THE ISLAND HOUSE and THE GUEST COTTAGE by Nancy Thayer, THE LAKE SEASON and MYSTIC SUMMER by Hannah McKinnon, SUMMER WITH MY SISTERS by Holly Chamberlain
* An e-galley was provided by William Morrow and Edelweiss for an honest review.
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Susan Wiggs comes THROUGH AGAIN WITH A GOOD READ.