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The Cherry Harvest: A Novel

The Cherry Harvest: A Novel

3.8 5
by Lucy Sanna

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A memorable coming-of-age story and love story, laced with suspense, which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences.

The war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep


A memorable coming-of-age story and love story, laced with suspense, which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences.

The war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family well fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, and most of the other local men, are fighting in Europe.

When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit.

But when Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate, the implications of Charlotte’s decision become apparent—especially when she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Karl. So busy are they with the prisoners that Charlotte and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with dreams and temptations of her own—including a secret romance with the son of a wealthy, war-profiteering senator. And when their beloved Ben returns home, bitter and injured, bearing an intense hatred of Germans, Charlotte’s secrets threaten to explode their world.

Editorial Reviews

Christian Kiefer
“At times romantic, scheming, heartbreaking, and tragic, Lucy Sanna’s fiction debut takes us to an America only just receding from memory. It is a time of war, love, and passion, and in Sanna’s hands it all becomes undeniably and vividly alive.”
Amy Smith
“A beautiful novel and a reminder that war touches every family, but never in the same way. Sanna’s engaging, unforgettable characters show how every action can resound in unimaginable consequences—and what starts out as an act of kindness might prove the most dangerous. Haunting.”
Nancy Farmer
“A delight to read. The world she created was so physically real and the characters so engaging that I was instantly drawn in . . . I read the book at one sitting...and highly recommend.”
Antoinette May
The Cherry Harvest is not just a novel you won’t want to put down—Sanna’s insightful characters and heart-stopping plot twists make it a tale that will stay with you always.”
Gillian Bagwell
The Cherry Harvest gripped me from the first sentence. It’s a vivid, compelling, and beautifully written story, by turns lyrical and savage, as the well-drawn characters, consumed by passion, fear, hope, and hatred, move inexorably toward the unexpected climax.”
Shelf Awareness
“Sanna has adeptly interwoven details of life and hardship for many in the U.S. during this time with the very different lives of the rich who profited off the war . . . an impassioned and spirited historical romance.”
San Jose Mercury News
“A fine novel of life during wartime.”
Library Journal
It is 1944 in Door County, WI, and Charlotte Christiansen has persuaded her husband to use German prisoners of war from a nearby camp to help harvest the family's cherry orchard for another year of financial survival. Now the men have arrived, and the changes in her town, her family, and to herself are far greater than she ever could have imagined, including being attracted to one of the prisoners. Setting the story in a small community on the shores of Lake Michigan during World War II allows interesting details about daily life on the home front to become a large part of the story. Events move at a fast pace, adding to the intensity of the dramatic action but the characters are inconsistent in their thoughts and actions, making it hard for readers to become fully engaged. A series of unexpectedly abrupt and contrived plot twists toward the end may leave readers less than satisfied. VERDICT Despite its flaws, this debut novel makes a strong choice for book clubs as it addresses a wide range of topics for discussion: Is violence on a personal or global scale ever justified? Are relationships forged from necessity just as valid as those developed from emotion? Additionally, the issue of how deeply unacknowledged desires can affect the way we live is addressed. [See Prepub Alert, 12/15/14.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Lucy Sanna has published poetry, short stories, and nonfiction books, which have been translated into a number of languages. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Sanna now divides her time between Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco, California. The Cherry Harvest is her first novel.

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The Cherry Harvest: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous 16 days ago
As an animal lover, I couldn't get past the first page. Much too graphic!
Anonymous 17 days ago
Anonymous 17 days ago
Moves fast...good characters..well written. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended! Loved the characters; they were complex. The story of a family - mother, father, sister, and brother; each with a dark side. Each flawed. The story included romances, adultery, awful secrets, flawed friendships, murder, war wounds, cherries, hard work, deceit, and more. I thought this novel was excellent. This story could have a sequel and I will definitely read another book by this author. The book deserves an A+++++
JReppy More than 1 year ago
In Door County, Wisconsin, cherries are king. And no cherry orchard is as prized as the Christiansen family orchard. However, it is WWII and the war, in particular shipbuilding on the Great Lakes, pays much better than being a farm laborer. In order to obtain the necessary labor, the community arranges to have a group of German POWs serve as laborers, staying in a migrant camp on the Christiansen property. This is not a popular decision because so many families have relatives, including the Christiansen's son, fighting the Nazis; but the community reluctantly agrees because the cherry and apple harvest is so important to the community. Although Thomas Christiansen has the best cherry orchard in the county, he loves literature and has fostered this love in his teenage daughter, Kate, who has plans to go to university. Among the POWs is Karl, an Oxford educated math professor who ends up being asked to tutor Kate in math. The presence of the POWS, especially Karl, brings changes, and ultimately heartbreak, into the lives of the Christiansens, especially Thomas' wife Charlotte and their daughter Kate. I thought this was a good debut novel. As other reviewers have commented, some of the plot elements were to be expected and standard in this type of novel; however, Ms. Sanna is upfront in the book jacket about some of the basic plot elements -- plus, it is fairly obvious that a story involving POWs and a farm family with an attractive wife and daughter is going to contain a romantic element and that the presence of German POWs in an American farming community where many of the men are off fighting is going to have the potential for violence. While some elements are predictable (the mystery about the romance is will it be the mother or the daughter), there are plenty of surprises and plot twists to make the book an enjoyable read. Also, the behavior of many of the characters is consistent with what one would expect for people struggling through WWII and faced with the "enemy" in their backyard. Furthermore, the daughter's character and possible future is mapped out enough that the potential for a sequel involving the future life of the daughter, Kate, would be possible if Ms. Sanna was so inclined. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.