Review: The Last of the Apple Blossom by Mary-Lou Stephens

 

Title: The Last of the Apple Blossom

Author: Mary-Lou Stephens

Published: 28th July 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read August 2021 courtesy Harlequin Australia

+++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

The Last of the Apple Blossom by Mary-Lou Stephens is a sweeping Australian tale that begins in 1967 as bushfires ravage southern Tasmania. Braving smoke and flames, school teacher Catherine Turner rushes from Hobart to her family’s apple orchard in the Huon Valley, devastated to find her younger brother has been killed and their crop razed. Despite her father’s objections to women working the land, Catherine is determined to contribute to reestablishing the orchard.

The dramatic start to The Last of the Apple Blossom immediately captured my attention, and it held as Catherine fought for the future she wanted in an era where women were allowed few options. All Catherine has ever wanted is to work alongside her father in the orchard, and eventually take over the running of it. That her dad denies her the opportunity is a continual source of frustration and sadness for Catherine which Stephens portrays well. I admired Catherine’s determination and resilience.

Stephens also gives voice to two other characters. Annie, Catherine’s neighbour and closest friend, is a loving wife and busy mother. After five boys, she finally has the daughter she’s always longed for but she harbours a secret she is terrified will tear her family apart. I guessed what Annie was hiding easily, but there was suspense involved in waiting for it to be discovered. Mark, and his young son Charlie, are guests of Annie’s husband. Mark has an interesting background, which throws up challenges when he and Catherine develop a romantic relationship.

I found the history, and operation, of the apple growing industry in Tasmania to be surprisingly interesting. Stephens deftly integrates fact gleaned from her meticulous research into the story, and honours the contribution of the industry to Australia.

Well-written, I felt the author captured the setting beautifully, vivid description led me through a landscape scarred by fire, and under shady trees laden with apples. Much of the story takes place during the 1960’s and 1970’s and the attitudes of the era are accurately represented.

A story of family, love, tragedy, and resilience, The Last of the Apple Blossom is an engaging, accomplished debut novel.

+++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Moore
    Aug 11, 2021 @ 23:24:58

    Very good review.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Robin Nolet
    Aug 12, 2021 @ 03:44:29

    I’m going to check this out. The story itself sounds interesting, and, being from Colorado, USA, where we have an active orchard industry in the western part of our state, I think it would be interesting to read about it in Australia–and during that period in time. Thanks for a great review. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. sjhigbee
    Aug 12, 2021 @ 09:13:45

    Thank you for a really cracking review, Shelleyrae:)). I’m fascinated by this book, as I spent a while living in a bit apple-growing area here in the UK – the cider orchards in Somerset. While it was on a completely different scales and utterly different surroundings – I also love the sound of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Kathryn
    Aug 12, 2021 @ 17:18:03

    Ah fire, such a terrible thing these days and this is starts back in the 60’s. One I’d like to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Mareli Thalwitzer
    Aug 13, 2021 @ 04:08:41

    I’ve never read a book set in in Tasmania! It sounds like an intense, but really good story,

    Trivia! I’ve read and reviewed a book last week with the main character named Hobart…

    Hope you are well Shelley and that you’ve had a good week.

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. WendyW
    Aug 13, 2021 @ 10:42:15

    Great review. I love historical fiction that is from a time and place I’m unfamiliar with.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Mystica
    Aug 14, 2021 @ 22:33:28

    The setting new to me. I’d like to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. Jennifer
    Aug 15, 2021 @ 11:23:21

    Great review, Shelleyrae. This is a lovely novel. It bought back so many memories for me (I was born in Tasmania, and remember the 1967 bushfires).

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  10. Sue
    Aug 16, 2021 @ 03:41:57

    Have just started reading it. Hit the 100 page & loving it. Thanks for the enticing review.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Trackback: Historical Fiction Round Up: August 2021 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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