Family Tree: A Novel

Family Tree: A Novel

by Susan Wiggs

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author 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 Los Angeles 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 yearlong 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 judge. 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. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062425478
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/09/2016
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 16,912
File size: 824 KB

About the Author

Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers' group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, PRI, and USA Today, has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally, and on the high seas.

From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature. Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries and languages. According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with "refreshingly honest emotion," and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is "one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." Booklist characterizes her books as "real and true and unforgettable."

Her novels have appeared in the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and have captured readers’ hearts around the globe with translations into more than 20 languages and 30 countries. She is a three-time winner of the RITA Award,. Her recent novel, The Apple Orchard, is currently being made into a film, and The Lakeshore Chronicles has been optioned for adaptation into a series.

The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

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Family Tree 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting storyline of love, maple syrup, and strong family ties. I read it straight thru in one day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[I voluntarily reviewed this ARC that I won on Goodreads] " Don't let the things you have to do take away from the things you love to do" Annie Rush grew up on a maple sugaring farm. However, she lives with her husband in LA producing a cooking show that's ratings are through the roof. And then world literally comes down around her as a piece of equipment falls on top of her. A year later she awakes in her hometown having been moved there by her now EX husband and very llittle memory of what happened. A slow and painful recovery of mind, body AND spirit are as taxing as being in a coma. However, will she be the same person she was? Is that really who she is now? Through "then" and "now" selections, we begin to understand Annie's hopes and dreams from as far back as high school. We meet her family and friends; we learn of her stubborn streak; we grieve her losses and celebrate her new found strenghs as she begins to piece together her peace. There is a quiet metaphor that comes through this whole book, and that is the sugar maple. Tapped in early spring, one day it may begin to stop giving maple sap. When that happens, the tree is cut down and taken to mill to be made into useful wood. I am a New Englander, born and bread, and I have seen tiny trees grow out of stumps. I have seen limbs fall and regrow. I understand how useful a maple tree is. All living things, given a chance, can adapt or be adapted. Annie, and in turn her "circle" do change and grown even stronger as the story begins its denouement. I loved this book. Wiggs has written characters I'd want to meet at the local coffee shop and share stories with, especially her support group. 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unlike the other reviewers, I didn't like this book. I saw a woman betrayed by two men she loved, and how she fought back from an accident all alone. I didn't find a lot of passion and love, just men who jumped into bed with someone else as soon as Annie stepped away. The flashbacks were OK, but this book and plot just missed the point for me. Wiggs' earlier works were much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book though i figured out how to solve the problem long before the end of the book! The ending was a bit underdeveloped.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A nice story and not hard to follow considering it bounced between then and now and her and him. Despite liking it I found it a really slow and wordy read.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Annie Rush is in the prime of her life or so she thinks. She is living in LA with her husband as she produces a popular cooking show and he is the host. When one morning takes a turn her life will completely change. There are almost two story lines with the same main character in this book. There is the current storyline where Annie is living after an accident and having to decide in what direction she wants her life to go. The other storyline is her past and she goes back to high school and intermittently catches the reader up on the decisions that led her to LA and on the show with her husband. I loved having two storylines and having the chapters alternate. The author easily delineate which chapter is the past and which is the present, so there was no confusion!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all her books, and i love them all. Haven't been disappointed yet, they keep me interested from start to finish
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: It was one of those moments Gran used to call a key moment. Time didn’t simply tick past, unremarked, unnoticed. No, this was the kind of moment that made everything stop. You separated it from every other one, pressing the feeling to your heart, like a dried flower slipped between the pages of a beloved book. The moment was made of something fragile and delicate, yet it possessed the power to last forever. Memories are strange things, aren’t they? You can’t touch them and hold them in your hands, but they have incredible power. That’s the moment when everything changes. There’s before, and then after. And once a key moment occurs, there’s no going back to before. You make a choice, and it’s like ringing a bell. You can’t unring it. A key moment is a feeling. Your heart tells you. The point is, you have to pay attention. That was how love worked sometimes… It filled every nook and cranny of your heart, and then one day you realized it had gone away. She wondered where those feelings went. Maybe they trickled into the atmosphere to be inhaled by someone else, a stranger who suddenly saw someone across the room and instantly fell I love. My Review: This was my first experience enjoying Ms. Wigg’s amusing and dynamic storytelling and I immediately became an instant and ravenous fan. I adored her quirky characters, clever humor, and insightful narrative. Her storylines were poignant, entertaining, heart squeezing, intriguing, and thoughtfully written. The descriptive detail of her food preparations played havoc with my diet plan, ultimately causing me to run to the farmers market for my own fresh ingredients from her spark of culinary creativity. Her skillful wordcraft was a delight for all the senses and I doubt I could ever tire of feasting on her works.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Pair a terrific family story with food, and you can bet it's a book I will be reading. Susan Wiggs' Family Tree tells the tale of Annie Rush, who grew up on a family-owned maple farm in Vermont, and dreams of moving away to pursue a life making documentaries about food. Annie becomes a big success when she makes a documentary about Martin, a handsome man who owns a food truck in New York City. Her documentary becomes a viral sensation, and Annie ends up producing a hugely popular food show with Martin as the star. They have a busy, happy life in Los Angeles until a tragedy hits, and Annie ends up back in Switchback, Vermont having to start all over again. The story moves back and forth in time, as we see Annie as a teenage girl, working long hours during maple syrup season, cooking with her beloved Gran, and falling in love with a transfer student. Wiggs writes such intriguing, real characters, I felt like I knew them as friends. Annie's high school love, Fletcher, is such a great guy. He lives with his single dad, and more often than not is the adult in that family, even more so when his dad faces a traumatic event. We learn so much in this book too. Wiggs shows the reader how a maple farm works, and how whiskey is distilled (through Annie's friend's family business). I found that endlessly fascinating. The scenes set in the hospital and rehabilitation center were so well done, as we see how the daily challenges of relearning everything we take for granted can be so stressful. I love descriptions of food, and there are plenty in here to savor. Annie's rustic cheddar, apple and beer soup that she made in a high school competition had me salivating. Gran's Cabot grated cheese sandwich with spring onions, radishes and mayo on thick bread would be perfect with that. The description of the Thanksgiving feast that Annie brought to Fletcher and his dad had my stomach grumbling- "free range, organic chicken roasted in sage butter, homemade sweet potato hush puppies with sriracha ketchup, dressing with wild mushrooms and walnuts, garlic mashed potatoes and gravy, brandied cranberry compote and pumpkin pie in a maple pecan shell." Oh my goodness. Annie's story touched my heart. She is an ambitious, determined, smart woman who loves her family, and when she needed them most, they were there for her. I didn't want to put Family Tree down, and I stayed up way too late last night finishing it. I didn't want it to end, and hope that Susan Wiggs brings us more of Annie's story. If you like the television show This Is Us, then put Family Tree on your TBR list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of those can't put it down books. Story about life and second chances.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me wanting to read more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters in this story! Did not want the book to end. Will read more from this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story. Grew to love all the characters (except Martin) and wanted the story to go on and on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was so well written and the characters so likable. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like these book
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Susan Wiggs. Her books are great chic-lit and romance stories that I always devour. Family Tree seemed a little different to me. I think I would label it more women’s fiction. There was romance, there was love, but this was more of the story of Annie Rush Harlow. The story of a woman excited about the life she was living and where it was heading until something horrific happen and it was all taken from her. The kicker? She didn’t even realize what was happening. When Anna wakes up from her coma she must make tough decisions, learn to live again, and remake her entire life. Her struggles were real. Susan Wiggs portrayed Anna as such a strong person. Even when she was physically weak she was mentally strong. She never gave up, she never let go of hope, and she pushed to get all her dreams fulfilled. The saving grace for Anna is how her family and friends in her hometown of Switchback, Vermont all work together to bring her back to a place better than she last remembers. I enjoyed seeing her reconnect with high school friends, get reacquainted with her dad, and seeing her mom in a new light. They style of the story flows perfectly. With the past and present both being told there are no missed steps. The characters move easily in the right timeframe between the two parts and the storyline never falters between the timeframes. I definitely recommend picking up your own copy.
CarasBookBoudoir More than 1 year ago
How would you feel if you woke up one day and not remember anything? Well that is what happened to Anne Rush. She wakes up surrounded by her Mom, estranged father, brother and sister-in-law, only to be told she has "been asleep" for a whole year! Now Annie is not only relearning how to walk and become independent again, but also re-learning her life. But Annie finds divorce paperwork among her belongings, it kick starts her memories…she is not really sure she likes what she discovers. But what it does give Annie, is a sense of purpose and now nothing is going to stop her from starting again. Family Tree is a fictional story of one women's fight to get everything back that was taken from her! But it feels so true to life, like Annie was telling you her story herself. The writing was truly moving and reduced me to tears several times throughout this book, that people thought I had allergy issue. I admired the research the author did on long-term comas, brain injuries, memory loss and rehabilitation, the attention to detail made the book have that truth to it, which I truly enjoyed. There were so many characters I truly loved in this book! That I could go on forever with the details that I loved. I enjoyed Annie's character for her determination; Fletcher for his drive to fight for his Father. And for Annie's parents who rediscovered their love. This book was so remarkable, inspiring and to a small extent, life changing, which is why I will be buying it for all the young women in my life and with the hopes that the underlying message of being true to yourself and your dreams, will help to inspire them to shoot for the stars! I give Family Tree 5 stars!
foxreads11 More than 1 year ago
I am a sucker for books with a whole family involved. I love the tender exchanges with children and family who loves you even with all their own garbage. In the beginning, we find Annie to be in control of her life or so she thought. She is doing well with her production of her life’s dream of a cooking TV show that has a little twist. She is married and is being interviewed by a popular magazine. She finds out she is pregnant that morning of the interview and she is so elated that she ditches the rest of the interview to tell her husband. When she gets there, she finds the unthinkable! She runs off and part of the set falls on her and puts her in a coma for a year. When she wakes up, she is home in Vermont. She isn’t in California anymore. She doesn’t remember what happened to her much less how to do a simple task of holding a toothbrush or remembering that she was married or pregnant. As she begins the process of healing and regaining her strength and overcoming a severe head injury, the pieces slowly come back to her. Also her memories of Fletcher, the one she loved and left behind in Vermont. The book goes back and forth in time. Seeing what happens with both Fletcher and Annie over the years. You get their perspectives as well. Their on and off again relationship was hard to handle. Fletcher is an amazing person and sometimes I wanted to slap both of them. But mostly Annie! She couldn’t make up her mind what was more important to her. Yet you knew she wanted a family of her own. I thought she was stupid towards the end and almost pushing Fletcher away again. I get head injuries changes people (I should know my husband had a really good one too!) but she just irked me and then when she finally decided what to do, I was lost. I didn't get why she changed her mind so quick. It just ended abruptly. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to see her and Fletcher together. I enjoyed learning lots of food stuff! Ugh! My mouth watered with half the book! I learned a lot about syrup and sap! I liked how even in the teenage years most of the kids were hard workers on family businesses. This is an emotional book that deals with finding yourself again, finding happiness and making compromises to be with those you love who matter most in life. I loved Fletcher. He made a name for himself when others thought he would amount to nothing. I loved the dynamics of his relationship with his father. Annie’s family had more issues but I loved every minute of their encounters as a family. They were real and loved you even when they disagreed. The ending was sweet; I just wish it weren’t so rushed in the end. This is my first book by this author, but I am anxious to read more of her work!!
gaele More than 1 year ago
Told in a series of flashbacks and dream-like sequences, the story of Annie Harlow is one rife with choices of one thing over another, and resulted in a large bag full of what if’s. Waking from a year in a coma after an accident, Annie realizes that she’s no longer pregnant, married or has a show. Her husband had been having an affair, and when she was injured, he moved up and on with his life, ignoring her. She’s back in Switchback Vermont, where she grew up and learned her love of cooking from her grandmother. The little town she grew up in is loaded with memories, good and bad, and plenty of choices made that weren’t always the best. Looking back on those choices, where she has been, and how other influences set her on paths to left and right. What she has now is new options: a chance to reconnect with her first love, and perhaps even a chance at discovering the answers to the what-ifs that creep in to everyone’s life. I was expecting a simpler and lighter story, full of the newly gained second chances coming to Annie. When you add in the return to her hometown where everyone knew the child she was, the coming home is tempered by the memories, reflections on choices and a truly emotionally vulnerable Annie, with a chance to form her life in ways she desires. There is a certain heaviness to the overall tone that I didn’t see coming in a story that essentially boils down to a second chance at all of the decisions made years ago, to get a different result. A perfect choice for a book club read: many eyes and experiences on the story will heighten the insights into the story, provide alternative reasons for choices and even a chance at shared commiseration at the low points. An intriguing introduction to Susan Wiggs writing, I was tearing through the pages as I hoped for her happy ending. I received an Arc of the title from the publishers for purpose of honest review via Avon Addicts. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
beckybh More than 1 year ago
FAMILY TREE by Susan Wiggs is the intriguing story of Annie Rush's new beginning, both physically and emotionally. One DAY Annie's living in L.A., the happy producer of her husband's (Martin) successful cooking show, "A Key Ingredient", and the next YEAR, she's waking up from a coma where her whole life is different. Not only is she having to relearn everyday activities, like walking and talking, she's also trying to remember the bits and pieces of her past and how she ended up back in her hometown of Switchback, VT. Luckily she has her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and her four nieces and nephews to help in her recovery. Another person invested in her healing is single father, Fletcher Wyndham, the high school sweetheart she left behind to pursue her dreams. I really liked this book. The author does a great job creating complex and sympathetic characters and allows the reader to get glimpses of Annie's life as she remembers bits and pieces of her past. All her family is important to her, but it's the memories of her interactions with her grandmother that show how huge an influence she was on Annie's dreams and ultimate decisions. And as she heals, Annie realizes how important her hometown has been in her life. The only con to this story is the frequent jumps back and forth from NOW and THEN, the reason why I gave it 4 stars. But I understand that to follow Annie's recovery through her eyes, the reader needs to understand how her memories are necessary to her improving health and to frame her future choices. I recommend FAMILY TREE to fans of character-driven stories and anyone who likes a feel-good book. The unusual storyline is refreshing, and the plots and subplots nicely flow to a satisfying conclusion. And you can't go wrong with a Susan Wiggs book! If You Like This, You Might Also Like: ROSE HARBOR SERIES by Debbie Macomber, BLUE HERON series by Kristan Higgins, ON THE ROCKS and BOND GIRL by Erin Duffy, HERE'S TO US by Elin Hilderbrand, SO CLOSE by Emma McLaughlin, THE ISLAND HOUSE and THE GUEST COTTAGE by Nancy Thayer, THE LAKE SEASON and MYSTIC SUMMER by Hannah McKinnon, SUMMER WITH MY SISTERS by Holly Chamberlain * An e-galley was provided by William Morrow and Edelweiss for an honest review. ** Visit Blue Moon Mystery Saloon for more book reviews
LynnB888 More than 1 year ago
4 1/2 STARS! A touching story about surviving the unexpected and learning to live again! I really enjoyed the characters and the plot of this book … highly recommend you read it. The only thing I wasn’t overly fond of was the going back and forth between the present and the past every other chapter or so for much of the book. Annie Rush has it all! … or so it seems … a handsome husband, her dream job producing her own TV show in LA and her first baby on the way … and in the blink of an eye it’s gone. She wakes up in a hospital setting, clueless as to what has happened or why she’s there, unable to talk or move the way she should be able to … and is told that she’s lost a year of her life. As Annie starts a long road to recovering herself and her life, she learns that time isn’t all that she lost. She cocoons herself with her family in Switchback, Vermont remembering her life there on the maple tree farm that generations before her had cultivated. She reconnects with old friends, an old beau, and with the person she used to be and lost on the road to her success. When she picks back up her passion for cooking and producing, she is faced with new opportunities and a new life on the horizon. Will she choose to walk away from home again?
KristiBug More than 1 year ago
I love Susan Wiggs. She writes quite thoughtful books and really gives me something to think about. I really enjoyed the back and forth Annie and Fletcher. The flash backs were done perfectly. Highly recommend!
Barb-TRC More than 1 year ago
Family Tree by Susan Wiggs is a standalone contemporary fiction novel. We meet our heroine, Annie Rush immediately, as she is a successful producer of her own cooking show and happily married to Martin, who is the star of the show. Annie discovers to her surprise that she is pregnant, and hurries to the studio to tell Martin the news. At this point, Annie’s life is about to change. Much to her dismay, she finds Martin with another woman, and when she runs away, a scaffolding accident will put her into a coma for one year. When Annie awakens, she has a hard time focusing and remembers very little; she learns that she is back home in Vermont, in a hospital with her family surrounding her. What follows is Annie’s road to recovery, starting with therapy to teach her body to learn how to do the basic functions again. Annie confusion is partially due to memory loss, which will slowly return. In the beginning she has no memory of Martin or her life in L.A. Annie did have dreams while in her coma of her younger days in Vermont, especially the man she loved, Fletcher. The story goes back and forth in flashbacks between the days when she was with Fletcher and doing a cooking video thesis, and current day. Family Tree is a story of survival, love, family and betrayal, as Annie tries to restart her life. Fletcher was a great hero, having never forgotten Annie. When he visits her in the hospital, she immediately remembers Fletcher, and slowly the romance between will begin. For now they remain just friends. In her flashbacks, we learn that Fletcher, who was poor, decided that he could not keep up with Annie, and distanced himself. Especially after a tragic accident with his father, which forced him to stay home. We also watch in flashbacks how Fletcher learned from helping his father many legal aspects, which changed the direction of his life. In the current time Fletcher is now a successful Judge and wealthy. Life has changed for both of them. As Annie memory returns, she learns of Martin’s divorce, the loss of her child and her creation, the cooking show. But Annie’s family will be there for her every step of the way, as will Fletcher, bringing her back to her roots and changing her life for the better. Once Annie is fully recovered, she will step up to get back what is hers, but with the help of her family and her true love. Family Tree was excellent and well written story that focuses love, loss, betrayal and second chances.
MsChris1161 More than 1 year ago
If I had to choose one word to describe my impression after reading FAMILY TREE by Susan Wiggs it would be gripping. Right from the start my attention and soon after my emotions were completely caught up in this poignant and beautifully written story of Annie Rush's life, both before and after a tragic accident. Wiggs reveals Annie's life and the choices she's made while skillfully drawing you in to her joys, sadness, anger, disappointments, struggles, excitement, and love. The complete picture of a life fully lived, as is typical of Wiggs' books, which are always so finely detailed. "It’s time to let go of the person you were. Try to recognize the new person emerging from all this." While there is a love story involved, the theme is clearly more about starting over than romance. About a second chance in every sense of the word. As a young woman Annie walks away from Fletcher Wyndham, her first love, in order to pursue her dreams. She found great success in her career and believed she had a solid marriage with Martin, her husband and business partner. Her discovery of his betrayal is immediately followed by an accident that leaves her in a coma and back with her family in Vermont. Her recovery process allows her to take fresh look at her life, her relationships and decisions as she heals. This includes a reunion with her father, who had walked away from the family when she was just a child, and another chance to rebuild. But more importantly getting back to her roots puts her first loves in perspective. Fletcher, who has never gotten over her, and vice versa. Her love of food and cooking, instilled by the time spent at her grandmother's side from an early age. And her gift of capturing the key moments and heart of people in her films. Wiggs writing style flows easily, even as she moves back and forth between the present and the past. Her characters and story are fully developed and, as I said in the beginning, gripping. Reading FAMILY TREE reminds me of how her writing is always consistently fabulous. It's been awhile since I've read one of her books and now I'm truly asking myself why. Don't miss out on this one! 4 stars