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The Orchardist (2012)

by Amanda Coplin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9171388,745 (3.84)103
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 103 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 137 (next | show all)
A very good first book but the beginning raised my expectations so high and the book didn’t live up to them. The premise of the book—turn of the 20th century and a lonely, sensitive man who has all by himself created a beautiful fruit orchard in the Pacific Northwest—Washington state?—sees two feral pregnant girls living off the fruit of his orchard. He tries to help them but they are wild with trauma. He’s a pioneer child whose Mother brought him west when the father died in a mining accident. The trip was dangerous, nearly impossible. He also has a sister but a few years after the mother dies when they are still teenagers, she disappears from the woods one day, leaving no sign but a basket and a bonnet. The beginning of the book crackles with potential—the danger women face, how men cause or are also crushed by it.

The book never solves the mystery of the sister. I respect that choice—it’s more true—but I kept hoping for something to energize this long book. All the disclosure is up front and then it’s just the main character worrying.

It’s a study in the fallout from trauma, how far it ripples out. The end is sad but lovely. The prose is often lovely. I couldn’t shake the feeling, though, that the realism and the book’s truly admirable ethic were winning out over Story. ( )
  wordlikeabell | May 5, 2024 |
Almost a poem. I kept thinking of Longfellow's Hiawatha as the story unfolded. The absence of quotation marks translated this tale of one man's relationship with 5 women into a sepia-toned silent film about place, wounded souls, and enduring love. ( )
  jemisonreads | Jan 22, 2024 |
4.5 The first 1/2 was great. Lost some momentum after that. Sad that she has not published in the 10 years since. ( )
  CharleySweet | Jul 2, 2023 |
A fine story with a deep sense of place and intensely felt characters tied to the places with layers of imagery. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
In an interview in the back of the book the author describes how she had a vision of a stolid old man in an orchard, with a young girl clinging to his pants, and a young woman in the background among the trees, and an overall air of grief among them, and that she wrote this book from that image. To me, this book felt like viewing a painting or photograph of her description, and thus I felt impressions of the characters from a very narrow distinct viewpoint, but not an overall understanding of them or ability to relate to them. ( )
  bangerlm | Jan 18, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 137 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The roses you gave me kept me awake with the sound of their petals falling.  ---JACK GILBERT
Dedication
To my family
And in memory of my grandfather
Dwayne Eugene Sanders
1936-1994
First words
His face was as pitted as the moon.
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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Book description
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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