By: Susan Wiggs
Publication Date: 8/9/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
For readers of Kristin Hannah and Jodi Picoult 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 Manhattan 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 year-long 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 ex-cop. 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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A special thank you to HarperCollins-William Morrow and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Talented Susan Wiggs picks up with Annie Rush, from her prequel short story, The Key Ingredient, with FAMILY TREE—heartwarming and emotionally charged; Annie finds life does not always go as planned, and throws us some curve balls, when we least expect.
Gran was a special person in Annie’s life. She had always taught her to remember the love. When things got hard and you wonder why you got married in the first place- to recall the love.
Martin was a catch. He made her laugh. When they came up with ideas, they would work on it together with joy. He was her husband, her partner and an irreplaceable element in her life’s work. They had a TV cooking show. Martin was the chef, and Annie worked in production.
Annie loved talking about her Gran. She missed her every day but the remembrances kept her alive in Annie’s heart. Gram had published a vintage cookbook back in the sixties. Her name was Anastasia Carnaby Rush. Her grandfather called her Sugar in honor of the family maple syrup brand, Sugar Rush.
It was a regional best seller in Vermont and New England for years. Gram was a self-taught chef. Cooking was her love. Annie could picture her in the sunny farmhouse kitchen happily turning out meals for the family. She had a special way with food, and always said every recipe had a key ingredient.
“That’s the ingredient that defines the dish.”
Martin’s latest cookbook featured him looking delicious- the perfect combination of Wild West cowboy and Cordon Blue chef.
Her passion had been born in her grandmother’s kitchen when Annie was too young to read or write. Even before Martin, she was about food. She met him when he had a food cart in Manhattan. She was too busy to be in front of the camera.
Martin has a new sexy co-host side kick Melissa Barrett. Annie and Martin had been married eight years. The show had taken on a life of its own. The challenge was always staying exciting and relevant and on budget.
Everything was going well and she is pregnant with their first child. Time didn’t simply tick past, unremarked, unnoticed. This kind of moment that made everything stop. The moment was made of something fragile and delicate, yet it possessed the power to last forever.
She could not wait to tell Martin. She had to give him the message in person. A gift from the heart. He deserved a key moment of his own. She wanted to see his face when she delivered the magical words. A family.
However, she is shocked by a betrayal. Disbelief. Disappointment. Horror. Revulsion. An out of body experience. Is this how it will end? In the process of what she has seen, she trips over cable and then the entire structure came crashing down.
Her life is shattered. From then to now, Annie finds herself in a year- long coma. Grieving, Annie retreats to her family home in Switchback, Vermont. The maple farm. Her brother, mother, and four young nieces and nephews.
A world she left behind years ago. A high school boyfriend, Fletcher Wyndham. Her first love. She had lost her virginity in the sugar house, and a boy she thought would be hers’ forever. Fate got in the way. Separated by space, time, and circumstances.
Wiggs takes readers back to Annie’s life as a senior in high school, dizzy with possibilities. But life had a way of interfering with one’s plans. Things popped up unexpectedly, and suddenly a carefully plotted route had to be recalculated. Annie had always been a big believer in magic.
An entire year wiped out. Her mind unfurled and slipped backward, seeking something that felt more real and substantial than the world she’d woken up to. From the life she left, and the one forcing her to return.
Finding the key ingredient, acknowledging its source, and building a story around the dish was a simple enough concept, but the execution was complicated. There are gaps, but there are those who can help.
Sugar Rush goes gourmet. Annie finally finds a way to reconnect with her past and her old dreams. The key ingredient was simple – to go back to the original dream.
As Annie goes through her grandmother’s cookbook she felt her come alive and she too captures what she loved: the preproduction, recipe testing, shooting animating, and editing. From writer, producer, and star. The key ingredient to life lay beyond the kitchen.
Was she ready to take the next step- a fresh approach to life? Second chances. Starting from scratch. Beginning anew from carefully chosen ingredients.
As always, Wiggs weaves a magical story of the heart with nostalgic voices of the past and cozy comforting settings and yummy cuisine. From triumph over tragedy, love, loss, the pain of the past, first loves, and rediscovery. Makes you want to head for the lush New England autumn leaves, the cold brisk fresh air, and the apple cider.
If you have not read Susan Wiggs, you are missing out!
As I have mentioned before, I am waiting for a Hallmark TV series, based on her charming books. Her settings and characters come alive, with all the key ingredients for a satisfying series like Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, and Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores.
I am ready for Susan Wiggs’ close knit community surrounded by family and friends with lots of joys, struggles, life, love, food, romance, spectacular settings, and heartwarming characters- small or large screen. (Be sure and include hot and sexy, Jesse Metcalfe and the adorable golden retriever.)
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The Key Ingredient
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date: 6/14/2016
Read My Review
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs comes a wonderful short story, and companion tale to her unforgettable novel Family Tree
Every great love story has a beginning. Annie Rush’s started at a food cart in a vibrant city park. Annie, then a film student, came across a ruggedly handsome, charismatic chef serving up gourmet street food to an ever-growing clientele lining up for his creations. Read More Buy the Book
About the Author
Susan Wiggs is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the beloved Lakeshore Chronicles series. Her novels have been translated into two-dozen languages, and she has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. A Harvard graduate, she lives with her husband in Washington State, on an island in Puget Sound. Read More
Praise for Susan Wiggs
“Wiggs, a consummate storyteller, has few equals when it comes to evoking deep emotion in readers. . . . It’s her observations about our modern lives and times that really stand out.”
—RT Book Reviews
“A human and multi-layered story exploring duty to both country and family.” —Nora Roberts on The Ocean Between Us
“Susan Wiggs delves deeply into her characters’ hearts and motivations to touch our own.”
“Wiggs is one of our best observers of stories of the heart. She knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every
“Susan Wiggs writes poignant, unforgettable stories of every woman’s
hopes and dreams.”
—Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Susan Wiggs creates fresh, unique, and exciting tales.”
—Jayne Ann Krentz
A wonderful read, fun and wise, and absolutely delicious.” — Nancy Thayer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Island House
“Clever, creative, and ingenious, this is Susan Wiggs at her best. I devoured the book, turning the pages so fast I got a papercut.” — Debbie Macomber
“Love, loss, passion, and everything in between...I love Susan Wiggs’ novels so much.” — Jenny Colgan
“Soul-satisfying...Will delight readers of Robyn Carr and Debbie Macomber...Wiggs writes with effortless grace about what breaks families apart and what brings them back together. Add this to her gift for crafting exquisitely nuanced characters and flair for perfectly capturing the rhythm of life in a small town.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Wiggs… [tackles] a complicated dual storyline with her typical blend of authenticity and sensitivity. A compelling exploration of self, family, love, and the power of new beginnings.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This sweet yet dramatic and winding love story demonstrates the realities and complexities of love. Recommended for fans of realistic, heartwarming romances full of second chances.” — Library Journal
“Emotionally honest, poignant and including a delightful thread of humor… Family Tree is a story of one woman’s journey through betrayal and pain to emerge triumph as she learns to embrace the new challenges life has in store for her.” — RT Book Reviews