The Beach Club Book Club chose Lucy Sanna's debut novel, The Cherry Harvest, as our next book. The story is set in Door County, Wisconsin in 1944. While most of the young men are off fighting WWII, the migrant workers who usually work picking the cherries on Christiansen farm are working in munitions factories making more money.
Charlotte Christiansen fears that they won't be able to bring in the cherry harvest and that they could possibly lose everything they have worked for. She tells her husband Thomas that they must convince the town leaders to use Nazi prisoners of war being housed nearby to help them pick the cherries.
Many of the townspeople are opposed to this, and although Charlotte's son Ben is off fighting in Europe, she believes this is the only way for them to survive. The conflict between the townspeople and the farmers grows more contentious when one of the prisoners working on the Christiansen farm goes missing.
The Cherry Harvest is a wonderful book, drawing the reader into this world. I read it in two sittings, totally engrossed in the story and the difficult, very physical life of a farm family. It makes you respect the work it takes to provide food for all of us.
There are many food references in The Cherry Harvest, and I particularly enjoyed this paragraph, describing Charlotte making her delicious pies to sell at their farm stand.
"Charlotte might make fifty or sixty or even one hundred pies, but she made them one at a time. When people asked for her recipe, she gladly gave it. It wasn't about the ingredients, however; it was in the handling of the dough. The secret was to handle it as little as possible, fingering it just enough to break up the fat, adding the smallest amount of ice water, a drop at a time, then quickly rounding the dough into a ball the size of a large orange to chill in the icebox. The perfect dough for rolling the perfect crust, thin and flaky. It was the touch that made it special. And Thomas' prize-winning cherries, of course."I grew up where are many orchards and farms in the surrounding area, and so I had great interest in The Cherry Harvest. It will have you craving a homemade cherry pie after reading it. I will post a full review after the Beach Club Book Club discusses it.