Sue Johnson is an author who has been on my radar since I started blogging in 2011. Our paths originally crossed as part of the LoveAHappyEnding group (which is now an award winning free online lifestyle magazine with contributions from some of those same authors from 2011).
I’ve reviewed Sue Johnson’s fiction and non-fiction books on Jera’s Jamboree over the years and was delighted to be offered a copy of her latest fiction novel, Apple Orchard, Lemon Grove. Sue’s figurative writing is always a delight to read and I’m sharing my thoughts on the story with you today.
Print Length: 243 pages
Publisher: Endeavour Media (14 Dec. 2017)
Available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
When Gemma’s great aunt passes away, she leaves her a half share in a restaurant. Ready to escape her mundane life and recent breakup, Gemma heads for the restaurant in the apple orchard in Charworth.
Stefano is the other partner in Gemma’s new venture. Italian, moody, but an amazing chef, Gemma and Stefano are aghast to discover the clause in their joint inheritance: they must both live at the restaurant while they work together. If either of them leaves, or if a profit is not made at the end of the six months they will have failed, and lost their inheritance.
The challenge is on, but Gemma and Stefano have another mystery on their hands. Stefano has no idea what he is doing there, and has never heard of Gemma’s great aunt, Anna. And so it is up to them to unravel the family tale, and find out what links the Apple Orchard of England to the Lemon Grove of Italy…
Apple Orchard, Lemon Grove is a fast-paced novel with intriguing characters, atmospheric locations and mouth-watering food.
Opening with the scene of Gemma making one more major change to complete what started in the morning, it’s clear that although anxious, she needs to take control and shake off the shackles of mind control. Stefano’s suffered major changes himself back in Sorrento and feels the need to get away from the family business and his step-brothers. Neither Gemma or Stefano are in a good place when they initially meet at the restaurant … and so the conflict is set 🙂
I always enjoy stories that give me two perspectives and this works really well with Gemma and Stefano’s narrations. How they feel is very different to the face they present to each other and those around them. Both have scars from childhood which need healing … my heart felt heavy for both of them. I usually feel more connected to one character but in Apple Orchard, Lemon Grove the connection was there at the same level for Gemma and Stefano.
The time limit of 6 months gives the story a fast pace and I have to say I loved everything about getting the restaurant up and running and the creativity of what happens to move the restaurant forward. I was so caught up in this! and found myself thinking how this could be replicated for other situations. Very inspiring. This setting means we get to connect with some fabulous characters who become a part of everyday life either through living in the village or involved in the challenges. A great cast of characters that give the story a uniqueness as well as being a community (for both good and ill – giving plenty of conflict). One visiting character made my hackles rise and I was rooting for Gemma to find the strength to do what she needed to do.
Apple Orchard, Lemon Grove unites what are seemingly two opposing places (the drabness of winter in the UK with the sparkling energy of Sorrento) as well as two families with no apparent connection. It’s a great title for the story, however, I think the book cover doesn’t do the story justice at all. It’s contemporary and fizzes with both conflict and romance.
Inspiring, fast paced and written with what I’ve come to consider Sue Johnson’s engaging writing style (I mentioned figurative language earlier), one to add to your wish lists.
Connect with Sue Johnson