PRAISE FOR THE LAST OF THE APPLE BLOSSOM:
‘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
‘The Last of the Apple Blossom is a love letter to Tasmania’s Huon Valley and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Mary-Lou Stephens writes evocatively about family secrets, love, sacrifice, and finding the courage to rise again after devastating loss. An engrossing and poignant story, beautifully told.” — Christine Wells, author of Sisters of the Resistance
“I have long been a fan of Mary-Lou’s writing, which is always evocative and compelling. What a wonderful story this is, set at such a poignant moment in Tasmania’s history. I loved it.” — Josephine Moon, author of The Tea Chest and The Jam Queens
The fire took everything – except two women’s fighting spirits. A sweeping, big-hearted Australian family saga for readers of Judy Nunn and Victoria Purman.
7 February, 1967. 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Catherine becomes fond of Charlie, whose strange upbringing has left him shy and withdrawn.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.