Pub. Date: August 9, 2016
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, William Morrow!)
Summary: 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.
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
As a book lover, I should know better than to judge books by their covers so-to-speak, but as a bookseller, I couldn’t help but notice certain authors had particular audiences. I had written off authors like Susan Wiggs and Jude Deveraux as being writers for old ladies…only to wind up loving Deveraux’s latest, The Girl from Summer Hill, so that goes to show how little I know!
Family Tree isn’t a novel I would have ever picked up were it not for the publicist reaching out to me. She was so excited about this latest book and that zeal was infectious – plus food plays a huge role in this story. How could I possibly say no?
To say Annie Harlow is ambitious is an understatement. The ink on her degree was barely dry when she moved across the country to Los Angeles to produce a television show. Ten years later The Key Ingredient is a sensation with Annie producing and her drop-dead gorgeous husband Martin as the host. The day Annie discovers she’s pregnant changes her world completely. Rushing to the set and into Martin’s trailer to tell him the good news, Annie instead gets some news of her own: she walks in to find Martin in a rather compromising position with his cohost Melissa. Refusing to listen to their excuses, Annie blindly runs through the crowded set and straight into the path of a falling piece of equipment.
In a fraction of a second, Annie lost a year of her life: she wakes up in a hospital back in her hometown in Vermont and finds out that, not only has a year gone by, but she’s now divorced. Determined to get her life back on track, Annie moves back into her childhood home, surrounded by her family, their maple farm, and a lost love from her past.
There are no surprises here: right from the start it’s clear Annie and Fletcher would wind up together, but watching their relationship unfold (again) was such a joy I didn’t mind one bit! Family Tree alternates chapters between the past and the present and in the past chapters we meet Fletcher as the new boy in school, as a hired hand on the farm, as – at first – Annie’s friend, then slowly turning into something more. This was all so sweet and perfect, I could have read an entire book about them as teens. Once college starts, however, they realize their relationship isn’t going to be so easy anymore. Fletcher’s dad is in a horrible accident and loses a leg; Annie is already away at school and tries to be understanding, accepting that Fletcher’s silence means he’s focused on his dad. As more and more time elapses, they move farther away from one another (both emotionally and literally) until one day they find themselves married to other people, though they never truly got over one another. Annie’s accident brings them back together – now both divorced – and watching their love blossom once more was totally swoon-worthy!
Reading Family Tree was like watching a Lifetime movie – and I don’t mean that in a bad way! There was drama galore: a cooking show that’s falling apart, a pregnancy, a cheating spouse, an accident that leaves Annie in a year-long coma, an ex-boyfriend who’s back in the picture, and problems that were very conveniently resolved. Anything that could happen did happen and I lapped it all up. For me, Family Tree was the perfect way to spend a lazy summer weekend and I feel I need to apologize to Susan Wiggs for judging her books without ever reading one. It turns out I’m a HUGE fan and will for sure be reading more!