Thursday, 28 May 2015

Review: The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

 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.

ebook, 336 pages
Expected publication: June 2nd 2015 by William Morrow
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I love historical fiction  particularly when the story takes place during either of the World Wars. This book takes on an angle that I have not read about before which says quite a bit because I have read more war stories than I can count. It takes place on American soil where German war prisoners were used to help with the farming community in Wisconsin.

The synopsis is fairly detailed so I won't get into re-telling the story instead I will discuss my thoughts starting with the plot...

There were many things going on in The Cherry Harvest. There were the POW's brought in to do the farming, difficult times with rationing, coming of age, young love, sex, infidelity and PTSD to name just a few. As interesting as each topic was I found myself wishing for more. It was almost like there were so many threads that each one was glossed over a little in order to fit them all in. The impact of each individual topic was lost or drowning a little because of everything else that was going on. You would also think that with so much going on, the story would move quickly. This was the case with the second half of the book but I found it sluggish and slow in the beginning. The second half was far better than the first to the point I had to stay up to finish it. I also have to comment on the amazing job of the author in describing farm life during that period.

I struggled slightly with the characters. For the life of me I could not warm up to Charlotte. She was the one who so strongly spoke in favour of having the POW's help with the farming but was resentful, unpleasant and scared once they were there. She was whiny and immature in my opinion. I also thought that Kate came across much younger than she actually was. Although I didn't dislike her as much as her mother I found her terribly naive for someone of her age. However, I really liked Thomas which made the storyline involving Karl a little hard to swallow. The storyline involving Karl and Charlotte was grossly underdeveloped so I never really felt the attraction or became invested in how it would play out.

Without giving anything away I do have to comment on the ending. Surprisingly I was very satisfied with how it ended and I think I would have felt a little let down if it had ended any other way. I did not see it ending the way it did but was quite pleased with it.

In the end I enjoyed reading The Cherry Harvest and thought that the bones were good and that there were a few golden moments within it. I look forward to reading more from Sanna.

About 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, she now divides her time between Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco, California. The Cherry Harvest is her first novel.


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