The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
- Method of Obtaining: I received my copy from the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
- Published by: Harper
- Release Date: 8/21/2012
You belong to the earth, and the earth is hard.
At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, a solitary orchardist named Talmadge carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century. A gentle, solitary man, he finds solace and purpose in the sweetness of the apples, apricots, and plums he grows, and in the quiet, beating heart of the land-the valley of yellow grass bordering a deep canyon that has been his home since he was nine years old. Everything he is and has known is tied to this patch of earth. It is where his widowed mother is buried, taken by illness when he was just thirteen, and where his only companion, his beloved teenaged sister Elsbeth, mysteriously disappeared. It is where the horse wranglers-native men, mostly Nez Perce-pass through each spring with their wild herds, setting up camp in the flowering meadows between the trees.
One day, while in town to sell his fruit at the market, two girls, barefoot and dirty, steal some apples. Later, they appear on his homestead, cautious yet curious about the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, Jane and her sister Della take up on Talmadage’s land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. Yet just as the girls begin to trust him, brutal men with guns arrive in the orchard, and the shattering tragedy that follows sets Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect them, putting himself between the girls and the world, but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.
Reason for Reading:
- There is quite a bit of good buzz going around on this one.
I also recommend:
There are books that are beautiful pieces of fiction that fade quickly from memory, and then there are beautiful pieces of fiction that linger and and slowly impress more and more meaning into memory until you are overwhelmed by how exquisitely done they are. The latter is The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin.
This is such a quiet story – the dialog is sparse and doesn’t stand out from the story as a whole, but rather fits into a stream of consciousness that includes nature and an entire group of people in such a way that.. I just don’t know how to describe it. It’s beautiful. I have been ranting over this book to literature students at school, unable to keep my gushing praise from just one aspect of the book, but flitting from one to another, finding an abundance of things to talk about.
There’s the descriptions – so beautiful and so vivid that I could see the orchard in my mind’s eye and I could feel the grass beneath my feet and smell the fruit. There’s a particularly harsh scene where I could hear the screams, feel the heat of the room, and felt my body ache with the pain two young women were experiencing. Every step in the journey through this book had me enraptured – I had to know more, to feel more, to see more. I cried, heart-rending sobs over the fate of one character and the lack of options available to her. I felt enormous pity and love for another character and wished I could just hold him and give him the few comforts he desired. I wanted to mother another character, and to strike down the other. I felt such a violent range of emotions that it was like I was riding a roller-coaster and could not see what was just around the bend.
I am stunned that this is a debut from author Amanda Coplin. I could only hope that someday I could write something as profoundly moving as I found The Orchardist to be.
About the Author
A native of Washington State, Amanda Coplin has been a Fellow at The Fine Arts Work Centre in Provincetown,
Massachusetts, as well as Ledig House International Writers’ Residency Program in Ghent, New York. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
For more reviews on The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin,
please visit the book tour.