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The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin
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The Orchardist: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Amanda Coplin

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8057811,340 (3.8)56
Member:brangwinn
Title:The Orchardist: A Novel
Authors:Amanda Coplin
Info:Harper (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Washington State, Wenatchee

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The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (2012)

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This debut novel from Amanda Chopin takes place at the turn of the century in the early 1900's in rural Washington state. A lone orchard farmer named Talmadge whose lived an isolated life after his sister mysteriously disappeared some years ago. He is a quiet, committed, hard worker devoting his life to his orchard.

One day two runaway sisters arrive and steal the fruit off Talmadge's trees and when he doesn't object they hesitantly begin to trust him. Once he has earned their trust he discovers they are both pregnant and they cannot go back to their previous home. This slowly begins their relationship as they decide to stay with him. The neighbor medicine woman, Talmadge's friend Caroline delivers the babies. While one baby dies in birth the other sister dies in childbirth leaving Della and her niece Angelene.

Della has a restless spirit and sets out on her own first wrangling horses and then whatever else she can find to occupy herself to keep from returning home. Eventually Talmadge sets out to find her thinking she should be home caring for her niece. Angelene is the opposite of her aunt and is serenely grounded and very similar to Talmadge, the man who has raised her.

While this story was mostly peacefully reflective it completely lured me to the end. This book came highly recommended and I am of the same opinion. ( )
  missjomarch | Jun 22, 2014 |
Imagine a time-lapse video of a rose in bloom. The bud is slowly pushed under. The petals unfold one by one. The color explodes out in waves like a supernova. (If you need a visual, here's a YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LBODTEgoFg.) Gorgeous, right? It's easy to enjoy a four-minute video of a rose unfurling its beauty. It's pleasant to walk by a rose, enjoy its color and its odor. But keep in mind that rose likely took a month and a half to two months to bloom. Would you want to sit there and watch it, day after day, hour after hour? Would you appreciate the beauty in the same way, or would you grow tired of it?

That's the image that comes to mind when I think of Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist. It's a beautiful story with echos of a different era of writing. The language is wonderful and the story is equally well developed. The characters are good, though I never quite understood their choices and actions. Overall, The Orchardist is a well-written novel and certainly has its beauty. But the details and the pacing left me wanting to hit fast-forward. I'm a patient person, and I like a slow build-up, but there's a point where the necessity comes into question. There has to be a reason for such narrative choices. You could argue the style pays homage to the naturalistic novels of which era this novel takes place in. You could also argue it somehow emulates the daily routine of Talmadge, the novel's orchardist. That would be fine if the story wasn't about harems, murders, and prison. Still, the novel largely worked if it wasn't a bit tedious at times. I liked it to a point. But the end really dragged the story out and I didn't see a reason for it at all.

Despite this novel being somewhat of a chore to read, I would give Coplin another shot to entertain me. There's wonderful writing in these pages, it just didn't all come together in either the most captivating or enriching way. Those who enjoy a slow build-up and delivery, even when it doesn't make sense, will probably like this novel. It's a good story. I just think the pacing was way off. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jun 16, 2014 |
This was a beautiful story well told. It reminded me of Cold Mountain. The quiet simplicity of the setting and characters was mesmerizing. This is a book that would not be diminished by rereading. ( )
  ElizabethBevins | May 6, 2014 |
This young author writes like a very old soul. Exquisitely beautiful and sad. Recommend. ( )
  dele2451 | May 3, 2014 |
This lyrical and complex novel spans the life of a man, William Talmadge. The novel is both a remarkable portrayal of friendship as well as a devastating story of loss, and of how individuals attempt to create their own families. Coplin writes without sentimentality. Her psychologically complex characters don't find redemption--the most damaged character remains damaged despite the best efforts of others--but even her most deeply flawed characters remain sympathetic. Overall, it is a terrific book. ( )
  eapalmer | Apr 13, 2014 |
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To my family
And in memory of my grandfather
Dwayne Eugene Sanders
1936-1994
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His face was as pitted as the moon.
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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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When two feral girls--one of them very pregnant--appear on his homestead, solitary orchardist Talmadge, who carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century, vows to save and protect them.

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