Hope Wright is desperate. She arrives at her aunt’s home in Northern Michigan late at night sporting a black eye with her 10-year old daughter Tink in tow, who has stopped talking. She’s never met Aunt Peg but is counting on her to let them stay with her for awhile, at least for the night. After a frosty reception, Peg agrees to let them stay but as long as they do, both have to help harvest the cherries from her orchard.
It’s clear Hope is hiding something and soon it’s just as clear that Peg is, too. Hope’s is sort of easy to figure out and we’re just missing the details. But Peg’s secrets are more elusive and tied to her deceased sister, Hope’s mother. Though she’s lived on the property all of her life, she is a recluse, except for Abel, her neighbor who also helps with the harvest. I easily settled in, ready to learn more about these women and their stories and it didn’t disappoint. We get the points of view from not only Hope and Peg but Tink, too. Even though it took most of the book for everything to be revealed, I was in no hurry for that aspect to be resolved because the characterizations were so strong and I loved the journey.
I’m a long-time fan of the author, most of the books written under her pseudonym, Molly O’Keefe. It’s a guarantee that her characters will get under your skin and tug on your emotions and the Wright women certainly captured my mind and heart. Hope doesn’t even try to hide her vulnerability and Peg covers hers with a toughness that’s real to a large extent. My heart ached for her after discovering her truths. This was a wonderful story of three people who found each other at the right time in their lives and created family, a messy one but it works. I only wish I could have had more of them.
- Release Date: June 9, 2020
- Narrator: Nancy Peterson
- Audio Length: 8 hours, 30 minutes
- Publisher: Harlequin Audio
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Q&A with Molly Fader
Q: What message do you hope readers take away from The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season?
A: Oh wow! So many! I hope they think about about the power of memory in their own lives. That memories are what make us – good and bad. Mothers are fallible in a million ways and most are just trying their best. Grace and forgiveness feel better than resentment. When times are tough – get yourself some chocolate cherry brioche? 🙂
Q: What’s the story behind the story/how you came to write this novel?
A: Well, the opening scene literally just arrived in my head. Mom with a dead cell phone driving through the dark dark Michigan night. She’s absolutely out of options. Her daughter isn’t speaking to her. And she’s been beaten up.
As far as opening scenes go it’s one of my absolute favorites. Women out of options, out of pride, trying SO HARD to do the next thing… I love it.
Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals (outfit, snacks, pen,music, etc)?
A: I wake up early, make the coffee and go. Sometimes the internet is a little too distracting so I need to turn it off. But most days, that’s how it works. Some days – when I go on retreats or I’m really behind – I work in the morning, go for a long walk, come back and have a beer before writing some more. When I was a newbie writer I had a few more tricks I needed – there were books I wrote listening to the same album on repeat, but now I can’t have any music. I’ve written some books in different rooms in the house -because for whatever reason that’s where the writing magic happened. The McAvoy Sister’s was written almost entirely in my daughter’s bed room… I have no explanation for it.
Q: Which character do you most relate to and why?
A: Honestly, all of them in different ways and in different parts of the story. I have never been in the situation that Hope has been in but there have been parts of motherhood when I find myself in situations outside of my control and I have to treat my kids like adults. Or expect them to act like adults. And I know it’s not fair, but it’s what happens sometimes. I can also really relate to how she can find a million reasons to beat herself up as a mother – but struggles to see what an amazing job she’s doing. I think most mothers understand that reality.
I also understand Peg’s reluctance to open herself up to more pain. And how what she thinks is keeping her safe is actually a prison. And I can also appreciate her – If I don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen – stance. I think that’s a very real part of human nature.
And frankly even Tink – I LOVED how she used what power she had to make her point clear. The story about Tink and the broken leg – that came from real life. My kid’s friend spent most of a year wrapping his leg up in an ace bandage and telling everyone it was broken – it was like he was conducting a very specific social experiment on us. And then one day… done.
Q: What can you tell us about your next project?
A: Oh, I’m so excited about it. The title is always changing… so we’ll skip that part and get right to the good stuff…
Sarah Beecher has died and everyone in Greensboro, Iowa has shown up for her funeral. She was a beloved Administrator and Nurse at the Nursing School who has lived almost the entirety of her life in this small town. Her daughter’s are there – each battling some real life demons but supporting each other, despite old resentments and feuds. They are absolutely firm in the knowledge that Sarah Beecher had no secrets.
Into this funeral walks Kitty Deveraux – legendary star of stage and screen. And she’s there to tell Sarah’s daughters their mother was not who they thought she was.
And neither are they.
It’s got two timelines! Family secrets! Twists! Seriously, I enjoy it so much. AND it’s based in part on my mother’s experience at St. Luke’s Nursing School in Iowa.
Q: Have you been to the cherry festivals in MI?
A: I have! I’ve been to the cherry festival in Traverse City. I competed in a cherry pit spitting contest and ended up spitting the pit on my shoe. I was an embarrassment to my kids and husband. Luckily there was plenty of cherry ice cream (thank you Kilwin’s!) around with which to console myself after that poor showing.
Actually I spent part of almost every summer of my life in Michigan. First along Southern Lake Michigan – St. Joseph’s and South Haven. And then in Northern Lower Michigan – Traverse City, Boyne City and Petosky. A few summers on Beaver Island. I have enjoyed The Cherry Festivals, The Tulip Festivals, a million Beer Festivals and the odd Elvis Festival.
Q: Why did you decide to use a cherry orchard?
A: I wanted to set the book in Michigan. I knew I wanted it to be rural and agricultural and lots of hard work. And after all the summers in Michigan – picking up bags of fresh washed cherries from road stands all over the state – a cherry orchard seemed perfect!
About the Author
Molly Fader is the author of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets. She is also the award-winning author of more than forty romance novels under the pennames Molly O’Keefe and M. O’Keefe. She grew up outside of Chicago and now lives in Toronto.
(Thanks to Harlequin Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)