20 August 2012

Review: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Expected Publication: 21 August 2012 by HarperCollins

Pages: 448 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher for review

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis (Goodreads)

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. 

My Thoughts

From the very first page of The Orchardist I knew that I would love this book.  The detailed, flowing description of Talmadge sets the scene and writing that continues throughout the story.

Set in the orchard that Talmadge came to live in as a child with his widowed mother and younger sister, The Orchardist is a contraction of itself - dark yet heartening, lyrical yet stark, complicated yet straightforward.  Amanda Coplin contructs a story that is simple in plot but epic in execution.

Talmadge is gentle and kind, yet inwardly complicated - his past is tragic, and he has devoted his life to the most down-to-earth of occupations, tending his orchard, but when two young women come unexpectedly into his life, his obsession with protecting and sheltering them from their own tragic past drives him to do whatever it takes to make their lives better.  Della is so broken by her past, and her present, that she spends her whole life looking for something, or someone, that she cannot have.   

It's been quite a while since I read a book that could hold my attention just with the writing style alone, but I was immediately drawn into the story - the cast of characters is small, but all are so intimately  drawn by the end I knew them all so well it was like I was imagining the story, rather than reading it.

Any lover of historical fiction, lyrical writing will love The Orchardist, and I personally will be thinking about this story for a long, long time.


  1. Is this one written in dialect? I feel like you would probably have mentioned that, but I need to be sure before I mark this to read. I can't stand dialect, and the key word 'rural' makes me worry.

    1. No dialect here! And I would definitely mention it if there was because I am not friends with dialect - red pens threaten to riot at the first sight of it!

    2. YAY! I'm so glad to know that. I will add it to GR now. I've looked at it so many times, but the dusty hovel and the rural and everything just SCREAMED dialect. Glad that it's not. *whistles off to GR*



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