Publication Date: 8/9/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
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 in Vermont 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, Axle.)
Read More inspiration for Family Tree from Susan's Blog.