Amy’s new novel, Memories from Cherry Harvest, has been released by Counterpoint Press (Soft Skull Imprint) and is available through all booksellers. The book is the winner of the 2011 Frances Fabri Literary Prize. Amy has been chronicling her journey with the publication of this book on her blog: “The View from Amy’s World.” Tune in to the blog for fun details. Check out the Memories from Cherry Harvest Facebook Page, the Amazon listing for the book, and the listing at Goodreads.
A book launch event is scheduled for June 30 at 2 PM in Ukiah at Mendocino Book Company. A publication celebration will also be held on July 19 at 7 PM in Oakland at A Great Good Place for Books (in Montclair Village).
ABOUT Memories from Cherry Harvest
“When I remember Russia, I ache with longing for the village of my birth, where the beloved grandparents magically produced candy in a handshake and told stories of long ago when God spoke to humans and enchantments filled the world.” With these words, Rivka’s voice opens Amy Wachspress’s novel Memories from Cherry Harvest, a multigenerational family saga spanning seven decades, painted on the broad canvas of nations at war and in peace while also celebrating the delicious detail of the everyday moment.
Part one of the book is the story of two Jewish sisters, born in Russia around the time of the Communist Revolution, who fled pogroms and persecution with their parents when they emigrated to British-occupied Palestine. The girls’ parents befriend a widower with two children and join forces with him to establish a blended family where the four children thrive in the enchanted childhood fiercely created by the mother. But she cannot stave off the onslaught of political events that ultimately tears the family apart, sending the children to far-off France and America. Just as the four young people begin to settle into their new homes, World War II erupts and swallows them in the flood of history. Their lives in occupied France and war-time America, respectively, unfold in tandem. Babies are born, friendships forged, men loved, and cherry pies baked, against the brutal backdrop of the Holocaust. Those left standing on May 9, 1945 must dust the ashes off their shoulders and turn their attention to raising their children, despite the ghosts haunting the edges of their days.
In part two, one of the daughters of the sister who settled in America pursues an old-fashioned, sentimental education in her chosen field of art. She leads a lively 1960s bohemian lifestyle surrounded by a multicultural and colorful circle of creative friends. It is not surprising that her own daughter, raised in that imaginative and unconventional home, is an extraordinary and highly evolved individual. Part three is the story of this young woman, the only grandchild of the original sisters, who seizes her moment in history by providing aid to Salvadoran refugees fleeing the torturers and death squads in their homeland in the 1980s in much the same way that her own grandmother once fled the pogroms of Russia. As this granddaughter follows her vocation of reversing the damage torturers inflict on their victims, she must overcome a past-life trauma that haunts her memories and dreams. This process has a powerful ripple effect on the other women in the family. The final section of the book, part four, brings this family of women together at a significant life cycle event.
Memories from Cherry Harvest is a page-turner that propels the reader into its world to dwell there with the characters for a time. The book explores the physics of memory and the tenacity of the human spirit in its effort to overcome trauma and tragedy. It reinforces our faith in the belief that we can impact and improve the world with our actions, if only we continue to imagine this potentiality and work to realize it.