The Lily Cafe is thrilled to participate in the book blog tour for The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by Molly Fader.
Title: The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season
Author: Molly Fader
Publisher: Harlequin – Graydon House Books
Publication date: June 6, 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction
Summary: Hope is just looking for the safest place she can find for herself and her ten year old daughter, Tink. With a bruise on her face and a cut on her lip, she needs somewhere to hide and keep her daughter safe from their recent past. Peg is Hope’s aunt, a relative she has never met. Peg runs a cherry orchard along with her business partner Abel and isn’t into all that hospitality stuff. But she has a past with Hope, and having Hope there stirs up the past and all the pain with it. But neither can she afford to let Hope go.
Cherries are my favorite fruit, so I almost jumped into participating in this blog tour without even looking at what the book was about. But, once I saw it was women’s fiction and deals with the pains of the past for one tiny family, I was hooked. I adore women’s fiction when it doesn’t come with a heavy dose of romance, and, boy, did this book deliver! It also reminded me of one of my favorite books, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, just with a lot less magic and a darker overtone. Needless to say, I was quite smitten with this book.
The Characters: Perfectly Crafted
I don’t know how they did it, but the whole cast of characters broke my heart and then put it back together. Everyone, from Hope and Tink to Peg to Abel to Janice and everyone in between were hurting, had pain in their pasts, but were working hard to move past them and find a better, brighter future. They were so amazingly well drawn and so much fun to read about. They all seemed a bit too bright, but it also highlighted their own individual pains. I wish we had gotten to know the minor characters better, but my favorite part was really getting to know Hope, Tink, and Peg.
Hope, Tink, and Peg are dealing with their own losses and traumatizing experiences. It often felt like it went on too long with no resolution or change in sight, and then it miraculously got better, but I did like that it highlighted the fact that just talking about bad things can help make it seem a little better. Hope felt especially human to me. She’s just a single mom trying her best to find a good life for her and her daughter, but her own childhood has colored that. It was fascinating to read how history continued to have an impact, but that there’s always hope for a brighter future. Tink was also so much fun. As a ten year old girl, there’s a lot of spunk in her, but her life has also been tinged with fear, loss, and trauma, but I loved how healing The Orchard House was for her and how it helped her find empowerment. Peg was kind of awesome as a rough around the edges kind of lady who didn’t stand for any nonsense. I loved how her own past carried weight into her later years, but that she was also able to be redeemed.
Every character felt like someone who could walk off the pages. They felt real and alive with histories and baggage. They felt like real people. Some of them did feel a little one note, but most of them were very well crafted. I loved getting to know them and enjoyed reading about how they interacted and reacted to each other. I really felt for them and my introduction to Hope, Tink, and Peg really hurt my heart.
The Setting: A Cherry Orchard
Most of the book takes place at The Orchard House, the cherry orchard, and the town. It’s a small, isolated area in Michigan and I really got a small town feel to it. Everyone knew everyone else, but secrets still abounded. It was fascinating to see how the secrets were peeled back little by little and that no one actually held a grudge against anyone else. They were always there for each other, which was incredibly heartwarming.
I loved the orchard and The Orchard House. Of course, that might be because I just love cherries and wouldn’t mind living there myself, but I felt like I could feel the cherries, taste them. I felt like I was actually in the orchard. I loved it, and thought the house and the garden beside it was charming. I couldn’t help but wish I could live there, too.
I really liked the town. It was small, but had a fun eccentricity to it that made it really interesting. Everyone was so trusting, honest, and kind. It was kind of bizarre at first as I come from a large city that would be the exact opposite, but I couldn’t help finding it charming. The only weird thing was how beloved the cherries were. It seemed a little weird that everyone adored the cherries.
The only thing that bothered me, just a little, was that I could never remember this book takes place in Michigan. I don’t know anything about Michigan, and I’m not sure I know anything coming out of the book except that small towns seem really isolated. And there’s a lot of open space. Maybe. Anyways, I adored the orchard and the small town, but I’m on the fence as to whether it really screamed Michigan to me.
The Plot: Full of Pain and Hope
Not only did the characters break my heart and put it back together, but so did the story. The first chapters made my heart hurt, but then brightness and hope started to find their way into the story and then all of a sudden there was incredible magic to be found in the orchard and with this family.
This is the story of two women and a girl who come to each other broken being able to find their feet and their way forward in life. The ghosts of the past hang low and heavy over them, but they’re all fighters, and it was lovely to see them knit back together into a family.
I liked that there was just a bit of romance, and a whole lot more about friendship. I liked that the pacing, more or less, matched the natural healing pace of Hope and Tink. I liked that this story felt like it was unfolding naturally. There were steps forward and steps backward, but they were always moving on a path together.
As I mentioned, this book reminded me of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. There are a lot of parallels between the characters, circumstances, events, and story in general. But, as much as it reminded me of one of my favorite books, it also had a darker edge to it that made sure I didn’t settle too comfortably into the story. It kept me on my toes, kept me reading to see how it would all turn out. There isn’t as much magic, but there’s that same family love. Just a little darker.
Overall: Heartbreaking and Uplifting
I adored this book. Not only did it remind me of my favorite fruit and one of my favorite books, but it was also so much fun to read about the characters. Tink was so spunky and Hope felt like she could use all the hope in the world. I really liked the light sprinkle of romance, but my favorite parts had to do with Hope, Tink, and Peg finding friendship. This was a really lovely read, one that had me reading every moment I could.
How many cups of tea will you need?
5 cups will do nicely
About Molly Fader
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. Follow her on Twitter, @mollyokwrites.
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Thank you to Justine Sha and Harlequin for a free e-copy for review as well as the opportunity to participate in this book blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.