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The Orchardist (2012)

by Amanda Coplin

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1,7141246,980 (3.83)95
At the turn of the 20th century in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a gentle solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots. Then two feral, pregnant girls and armed gunmen set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.… (more)
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» See also 95 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
When two pregnant and starving sisters steal apples from Talmadge’s fruit stand in 1900, they meet a shy and lonely man. Talmadge lost his father in a mine collapse when he was nine; his mother died three years later; and his teenage sister vanished from their orchard at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in 1865. Now in his early 50s, his only friendships are with a mute Nez Perce horse wrangler and the herbalist who nursed his dying mother. The disappearance of his sister is a constant heartache.

He decides to befriend the sisters, Jane and Della, whose names he learns from a poster advertising a reward for their capture. They have escaped from a terrible man who brutalized the young girls in his brothel. When he tracks the sisters to Talmadge’s orchard, Jane attempts to make a final escape.

Talmadge is left to care for Della and Jane’s newborn baby, but is never fully able to contain Della. She’s a young woman constantly on the move, unable to hold still, or to love or be loved. She’s unlikable and totally heartbreaking.

Angelene's happy upbringing represents an end to the line of damaged lives. She's loved, trained and nurtured by Talmadge, like one of his trees. She is perfectly suited to a life spent growing things.

Despite the sense of foreboding, the bonds between characters and their quiet perseverance lends a sense of hope to the narrative. The author weaves together ife and death, loss and recovery, failure and redemption. If you are looking for a book that goes from point A to point B to point C with a logical and satisfying conclusion, this isn't the book for you. But for me, the author created a psychologically complex novel of considerable emotional power.

TBR 1332 ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
  chapterthree | May 28, 2020 |
LONG and very dry reading at times, but so compelling. I found the "quotationless dialogue" difficult.
Great characters - but FRUSTRATING! ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
well written, interesting concept, a bit austere in presentation. written with no quotation marks to denote speakers, but that wasn't a detraction after a few pages. I found myself frustrated that the characters were so taciturn and much of the problems would have been avoided with a little conversation! ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Extremely slow story of a bachelor orchardist in turn-of-the-century Washington state whose life is changed when two young girls, running away from a child-brothel, take refuge on his land. The writing is nicely crafted, and the local-to-me location gives it a certain amount of interest, but … nothing really happens. ( )
1 vote LyndaInOregon | Dec 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
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The roses you gave me kept me awake with the sound of their petals falling.  ---JACK GILBERT
To my family
And in memory of my grandfather
Dwayne Eugene Sanders
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His face was as pitted as the moon.
And that was the point of children, thought Caroline Middey: to bind us to the earth and to the present, to distract us from death.  A distraction dressed as a blessing: but dressed so well, and so truly, that it became a blessing.  Or maybe it was the other way around: a blessing first, before a distraction.
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Amanda Coplin evokes a powerful sense of place, mixing tenderness and violence as she spins an engrossing tale of a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West, and the dramatic consequences of his actions.
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