The Simplicity Of Cider - Amy E. Reichert
My Review - 4 Stars
What a marvelous cast of characters! This novel made me want to hop in my car and head straight for Wisconsin until I landed in a family-run apple orchard.
Sanna and her father Einars have a simple life. Their days take place in the orchards passed down to them for generations. Everything revolves around the apples, whether trying to figure out how to continue the heirloom trees or coming up with the perfect cider blend. Sanna hides in her work and hides from the townspeople. She's convinced herself that this is enough but the particular ache of never being chosen emanates from each page.
Isaac has taken his son Bass (also nicknamed Minnow, Wahoo, etc.) on a road trip across the country for the summer. It is an adventure but it is also a way for Isaac to postpone telling his son that his mother (and Isaac's ex-wife) died. This is a terrible idea but Isaac doesn't see a way forward and he wants to protect his son from grief. When they wind up in Door County, Einars hires Isaac to help out for the season. This disrupts Sanna's quiet life and she has no idea of the ways knowing Isaac will change her.
Isaac and Sanna have to find a way to work together once Einars has an accident. Between Einars' recovery and outside forces threatening the farm, this would be enough to move the plot along but Reichert has imbued her characters with unique gifts and opportunities and I was fascinated by the results.
Sanna has synesthesia in the form of tasting colors in the apples she uses to make cider. I loved learning more about the process of blending cider and the particular types of apples she used. It's a beautiful art and I only wished I could taste the results. The orchard reminded me of our family farm (my mom's side of the family). While ours was a dairy farm, there's something special about a family working together on the land but with today's generation, it's no longer a given this will continue on. Indeed, it was interesting to see how Sanna's brother Anders chose a different profession and the ways this splintered their relationship.
Sanna's character arc was the most compelling to me. Learning about the ways she'd been hurt over the years deeply resonated with me, even though I haven't had the same experiences. I could understand her compulsion to drill her life down the essentials no matter how isolating, to keep her expectations low, to let her work be enough. Watching her take a chance on Isaac and begin to make peace with her past was lovely to see, particularly in how this plays out with her estranged mother.
"'Before you came here, I was content, but I didn't know the joy of being part of something bigger and more special. You've shown me I want more than contentment. I want happiness. I may never find it outside of these moments, but at least I'll always have them in my heart.'" p. 238
I loved how we got to see Isaac's perspective and how he was immediately drawn toward Sanna in spite of all the reasons why he should not pursue her. I loved how tender he was with her and how he recognized that while she'd been hurt, she was not incomplete and that her independence would make her choosing him that much more special. The scene with the dancing tree was incredible.
While Sanna and Isaac's relationship is compelling, it's not the thrust of the novel and I found the family elements, as well as the orchard operations and the efforts to save it, made for such a great reading experience. This would make a great summer (or fall) read. I had a hard time putting it down, even as I wanted to luxuriate over the well-paced story.
Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.
Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.
Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.
Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.
From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.
Buy The Book Here:
The publisher is generously giving away one copy of The Simplicity Of Cider. The giveaway will be open until this Thursday. US entries only.
Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.