Review: Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

Title: Family Tree by Susan Wiggs
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


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.


Family Tree by Susan Wiggs is an emotionally compelling, poignant and humorous novel of healing and new beginnings.

Annie Rush has a career and husband she loves but in an instant, life as she knows it is gone.  Following a tragic accident, she wakes up from a year long coma with gaps in her memory and a long road of physical and occupational therapy ahead of her.  Returning to her family’s maple syrup farm in Switchback, Vermont, Annie’s recovery is arduous but with her family’s support, she slowly adjusts to her new “normal”. 

While her memories of current events are elusive, Annie has no trouble recalling her first love, Fletcher Wyndham.  Despite their love for one another, the timing was never quite right  for them and they finally broke up for good when Fletcher married someone else after Annie moved to California.  Fletcher is recently divorced and firmly entrenched in Switchback and once they realize their feelings have never waned, he and Annie rekindle their romance.  When an unexpected opportunity comes her way, will Annie chose her career?  Or will she follow her heart?

Annie fell in love with cooking at her beloved Gran’s side and from a young age, she always knew what she wanted out of life.  With single-minded determination, she set about making her dreams come true. While she might have wavered briefly after falling in love with Fletcher, they came up with a realistic plan to be together once Annie went off to college.  Unfortunately, life threw some unexpected obstacles in their path and their relationship was unable to survive these difficulties.

Annie’s career took her in very unanticipated direction and with Fletcher out of the picture, she fell in love with another man.  Her marriage to Martin was both a professional and personal collaboration as they worked together on a successful television cooking show.  Despite a few ups and downs, Annie is completely satisfied with her life with her husband right up until the day of her accident. Eager to share her good news with Martin, she discovers a devastating secret minutes before the accident that culminated in the year long coma.  Now picking up the pieces of her shattered life, Annie revisits both the joy and heartbreak of her past as she comes to terms with her present.

Fletcher is a genuinely kind-hearted man but he is stubborn and puts everyone else’s needs  ahead of his own.  His perseverance pays off and he finds an unexpected career path through misfortune.  With neither he nor Annie willing to compromise, they went their separate ways but Fletcher has no regrets about the way his life turned out.  But with Annie back in town, he is more than willing to their relationship another chance but Fletcher is not at all prepared when it appears history is going to repeat itself once again.

With chapters that alternate between past and present, Family Tree is a beautifully rendered novel that is poignant yet ultimately uplifting.  The characters are multi-faceted with flaws and human frailties that are easy to relate to.  The storyline is well-written and engaging with realistic problems and situations for the characters to overcome.  Susan Wiggs easily transitions into women’s fiction with this heartfelt novel of renewal and love.

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Family Tree, Rated B+, Review, Susan Wiggs, William Morrow, Women's Fiction

One Response to Review: Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

  1. Timitra

    Sounds interesting…thanks for the review Kathy