I grew up in Tasmania. The Apple Isle.

The Last of the Apple Blossom is a novel set in the orchards of the Huon Valley, a love song to a way of life long gone, erased by natural and economic woes.

Two orchards, two women…and a secret that binds them.

The Last of the Apple Blossom is published by HarperCollins (Harlequin HQ).

Here’s a little bit about it to whet your appetite.

7th February, 1967 and walls of flame reduce much of Tasmania to ash. 

Young schoolteacher Catherine Turner rushes to the Huon Valley to find her family’s apple orchard destroyed, her childhood home in ruins and her brother dead. Despite her father’s declaration that a woman will never run the orchard, Catherine resolves to rebuild the family business.

After five sons, Catherine’s friend and neighbour, Annie Pearson, is overjoyed by the birth of a much longed for daughter As Annie and her husband Dave work to repair the damage to their orchard, Dave’s friend Mark pitches in, despite the fact that Annie wants him gone. Mark has moved his family to the valley to escape his life in Melbourne, but his wife has disappeared leaving chaos in her wake and their young son Charlie in Mark’s care.  

Catherine becomes fond of Charlie, whose strange upbringing has left him shy and withdrawn. However, the growing friendship between Mark and Catherine not only scandalises the small community but threatens a secret Annie is desperate to keep hidden.

Through natural disasters, personal calamities and the devastating collapse of the apple industry, Catherine, Annie and those they love, battle to save their livelihoods, their families and their secrets.

PRAISE FOR THE LAST OF THE APPLE BLOSSOM:

‘An outstanding historical novel about women and the secrets and burdens they carry. Mary-Lou Stephens’ debut is an impressive feat of storytelling, making her a name to watch.’ – The Australian

One of the most beautifully written books I’ve read.‘ – Tania Blanchard, best selling author of The Girl From Berlin

‘What a cracker of a debut! A beautiful story of family and orchards, of secrets and love and forgiveness’ – Victoria Purman, author of The Women’s Pages

‘The crisp prose sparkles and the characters stay with you long after the story ends’ – Lauren Chater, author of Gulliver’s Wife

‘Timeless yet also telling an achingly familiar story to us here and now, this is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, triumph and tragedy’ – Karen Brooks, author of The Good Wife of Bath