Until I read The Apple Orchard, the story of twenty-something Tess Delaney, I didn’t realize there were real-life treasure hunters for hire. Employed by a auction house in San Francisco, Tess works as a Provenance Specialist to research and recover lost objects and historical artifacts. Our story begins with Tess returning a family heirloom to Annelise Winther. The 80-year old Danish immigrant hired Tess to recover her family’s Fabregé lavaliere stolen by the Nazis in the spring of 1941. Tess was able to trace the necklace back to the jeweler who created it over 100 years before, and follow the chain of command to present day when she uncovered it sitting in a collection of treasures seized in Copenhagen by the Nazis during World War II. The reader finds the irony that Tess chooses to follow the provenance of obscure objects and treasures as a profession when we learn she knows very little of her own origins. Her father is a mystery that she never knew, and her mother spent more time traveling the world than raising her only daughter. In fact, until the day after Tess’s meeting with Annelise Winther, Tess believes she has no other family besides her mother on the planet…that is until a handsome stranger, Dominic Rossi, shows up at her office and claims that her long-lost grandfather, Magnus Johansen–the father of the father she never knew–is dying.
And that he wants to leave her half of his apple orchard estate in Sonoma County.
And that she has a half-sister named Isabel that will share the property with Tess.
Tess’s story takes us away from her cluttered work-life and the foggy streets of San Francisco, to the golden hills of Archangel, California and her grandfather’s home, Bella Vista, a sprawling mediterranean villa and estate, artfully tucked on the edge of a working apple orchard. While Tess tries to understand her roll in this new family, she begins to uncover the secrets that led to her grandfather’s immigration to Archangel during World War II, and her father’s mysterious death that coincided with her birth. Side by side with Isabel and Dominic, Tess embarks on her greatest treasure hunt ever, the one that could save Bella Vista from financial ruin, and help to uncover her own provenance.
Friends, The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs is a fantastic story…and can I tell you that its sequel, The Beekeeper’s Ball, continues to uncover the secrets of Magnus Johansen, his life as a key member of the Nazi resistance, and how his love-affair with Annelise Winther–that’s right! Tess’s elderly client–is directly responsible for both Tess’s and Isabel’s existence!
To purchase The Apple Orchard from Amazon click here.
To purchase The Beekeeper’s Ball from Amazon click here.