Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hard Cider by Barbara Stark-Nemon

Hard Cider visits that time in many women’s lives when the empty nest prompts a reassessment of life. After fertility treatments, adoption, and intense involvement with rearing her children, Abbie Rose is ready to explore new options. Her emotional attachment to the land near her northern Michigan vacation home calls her to the possibility of pursuing a new venture. Many years previously on a teacher exchange program in London, Abbie fell in love with hard cider and visited cider makers in England. Now, she’s falling for the idea of creating her own cider from hard cider apples growing near her retreat on Michigan’s Leelanau peninsula.

Facing concerns and some opposition from her husband back in Ann Arbor and from her children including son Seth who says, “Okay, I get it,” Seth said. “You’re into apple cider. But last time I checked, you didn’t know how to work with a spreadsheet. Now you’re talking about starting a business.” As Abbie addresses family concerns and her own thoughts, she meets a mysterious new resident who makes everything she’s ever known a quandary.

It would do this novel a disservice to describe the secrets revealed as Stark-Nemon carefully discloses them allowing each character to absorb only what’s required. The secrets shown and the doubts encountered offer a universal portrait of marriage today. This is a novel for women searching for meaning after their children are grown.

It’s a novel of love with exquisite word pictures of the beauty of northern Michigan in all seasons. “Winter hit hard and fast in the second week of December – not unusual for northern Michigan, but still catching off guard those of us clinging to the pleasure of the mild weather that had lasted through Thanksgiving. The snow had begun four days earlier – a mass of roiling clouds that blew in off the lake, accompanied by plummeting temperatures. The first icy onslaught had whipped around in the wind, stinging unprotected cheeks and eyes like needles. Then the front had settled over the peninsula and dropped a foot of snow in twenty-four hours. After another day and several more inches of fluffy white stuff, the storm had passed, and this morning had dawned clear, sunny, and frigid.

The lake no longer pounded out rhythms to the falling snow, and the softened fields, laced tree branches, and muffled sounds combined to create a winter wonderland that never failed to thrill me. No snowbird behavior for me; I loved northern Michigan in the winter precisely for its harsh beauty and isolation. Short days and long nights brought me inward, forcing a welcome shift to indoor work with my hands, reading, planning, and dreaming.”

Creative women will appreciate how Abbie Rose knits as she spends contemplative time sorting out her problems. Knitting brings her into contact with other characters she might not ordinarily meet in the isolated area and it serves as a metaphor for the way lives can be knit together through careful attention and hard work.

Summing it Up: Reading this novel is like sitting down for a cup of tea and conversation with women who share their lives and support one another. Read Hard Cider to escape into the life of a woman who thinks and plans before acting on the challenges coming at her.

Rating: 4 stars   
Category: GPR, BC
Publication date: September 18, 2018
What Others are Saying:

Story Circle Book Reviews - "This is a book about how families shift and change, always, and how we learn to accept those earthquakes."


  1. This book looks great. I just asked my library to purchase it. Thank you

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.