The latest Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) this pedometer geek reader completed was Susan Wiggs’ Family Tree. This is not the first of her novels this reader has read. From some of her historical novels (At the King’s Command, The Horsemaster’s Daughter) to some of her contemporary novels (Summer at Willow Lake, Lakeside Cottage), this reader has enjoyed reading this author’s works (about ten in all so far and a few sitting on my shelves still to be read, but I digress). Because of this, this reader was excited and pleased to find out that a copy of Family Tree through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program was coming. This is the extended review.
by Susan Wiggs
Published by William Morrow
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
Having indicated that this reader enjoys the novels of Wiggs, it should come as no surprise that this one was thoroughly enjoyed. Among the novels of hers already read, this may be the favorite of all of them.
The key ingredient to this novel is Wiggs’ fresh characters (read: not cookie cutter). Added to this are family, friends, love, and new beginnings. It’s a thoroughly engaging, contemporary novel that starts from the moment that Annie realizes she is pregnant until the end. It’s an emotional read of love, lost and found, of dreams, lost and found, and families, lost and found, and of relationships, loved, lost, and rediscovered.
Annie Rush Harlow has it all: a handsome husband, a successful career she loves, a beautiful home in Los Angeles, and a baby on the way, that is, until it all comes crashing down in a moment. An accident brings her back to the family fold in Switchback, Vermont, and she will have to battle back with everything she has to put her life back together.
The tale, told in a Now/Then format, can be heart-wrenching as the reader roots for Annie Rush Harlow and Fletcher Wyndham, the seemingly star-crossed lovers. Timing is everything, and they just don’t seem to have it. Life’s events, both big and small, consistently get in the way.
As the title suggests, family is key. Annie’s relationship with her Gran; Annie’s relationship with her parents; Fletcher’s relationship with his father, are but a few of the more powerful relationships that drive the action.
Wiggs infuses humor into the story, too. One particular line that demonstrates it is as follows:
“Squeeze that cheesecloth like it’s your ex-husband’s. . . wallet.” (said to a group of divorced women, p. 332).
She also points out, through Annie, poor grammar on the part of another character, Melissa. The passage is as follows:
“What if the team was you and I?”
“Me,” said Annie automatically.
“You and me, not you and I. It’s an indirect object.” She realized Melissa was not getting it. (p. 340)
As a grammar geek, this particular passage just struck me as absolutely perfect.
As far as this reader is concerned, Annie’s and Fletcher’s story is one of this author’s best contemporary novels. There are enough twists and turns to make it interesting, and there are few, if any, What-the-tuck trends seen. The tale is both heartbreaking and heartwarming as Annie struggles to make peace with her past and take control of her future. Having read quite a few of her other novels in the past, this reader can definitely make this claim. On the other hand, there are quite a few of hers this reader still plans on reading.
For those who like women’s fiction or for those who have never experienced Susan Wiggs’ writing, consider starting with this one.