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Orchard

by Larry Watson

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20611102,974 (3.38)46
Ned, a philandering painter, uses Sonja as his model. But she becomes more than his model and more than an object of desire-she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known. When both Ned and her husband insist on possessing her, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence, and Sonja must find a way to placate both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.… (more)
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» See also 46 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
“This woman shed her clothes, nakedness her craft and art.”

“Babies and rifles - their shapes furnished the necessary instruction: Carry this way.”

and,

“Horse, did you kill my baby boy?”

Two men, an apple grower and a painter, one woman and Buck the horse. And though it didn't end the way I wanted it to, it ended the way that it should have. Watson can really write! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jun 12, 2021 |
L. Watson is an excellent author. Unfortunately, after readingl fifty percent of this book, I could not get into it and have decided to put it aside. Not an easy choice. ( )
  BALE | Aug 18, 2016 |
Orchard tells a story that at first glance, seems to be a simple taleof love, jealousy, and obsession but it is one of those books in which the sum is greater than its parts. In this book we are introduced to Ned Weaver, an acclaimed artist who is almost as famous for his dalliances with his models as for his paintings. He is married to Harriet, who was at one time his model, and has long since concluded that any suffering she experiences matters not at all in the face of the importance of his art. Henry House is the jealous husband of the woman who will become Ned's greatest muse, Sonja, following a tragedy that has driven husband and wife in two different extremes of sorrow.

As I said this book could have been a simple tale of jealousy and love.They overflow bookshelves and flood the stores. However, Larry Watson has masterfully crafted a complex character study that examines sorrow and the motivations of the human heart. The book is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of each of Harriet, Ned, Henry, and Sonja, while a couple come from the view of the House's daughter June. These chapters also travel back in forth in time, though not a large gap exists between the three timeframes which slowly lay bare the events that lead to the denouement. In some books this could create a big mess and confusion, but Watson handles it skillfully. I especially love that the explosive conclusion to their shared story was woven into the book, urging the reader forward, rather than being revealed all at once.

My one complaint was that the book could have even shorter. The final pages served as an epilogue of sorts, showing the reader what happens to each of our protaganists. The two chapters dealing with Harriet and Ned were quite well done and in keeping with the book. However the other two, Henry's especially, felt trite and uninspired. As these two were the last two chapters the have sullied my appreciation of this beautfully rendered novel just a touch, causing me to drop the rating a smidge. I highly recommend this stunning novel, and will definitely be reading more by Watson. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
4.5****

From the book jacket - Sonja Skordahl came to America from Norway looking for a new life. Instead, she settled in Door County, Wisconsin, and married Henry House – only to find herself defined by her roles as wife and mother. Destiny lands Sonja in the studio of Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed painter. There she becomes more than is model and more than a mere object of desire; she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known, much to the chagrin of the artist’s wife. When both Ned and Henry insist on possessing Sonja, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence – as she struggles to appease both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.

My reactions
This is a lovely, character-driven gem of a novel. The four central characters – Sonja and Henry House, and Henrietta and Ned Weaver – share a desire to be recognized, and the frustration of being overlooked or disregarded.

Well, maybe not Ned, who is a misogynistic narcissist who believes he can behave any way he wishes as long as it is for the greater glory of art. I really disliked Ned, but loved how Watson wrote him. Henrietta, in contrast, seemed rather passive/aggressive in her approach to her marriage and relationships with the other characters. She truly did not understand Ned or his behavior, so evident by her final act / offer to him.

Sonja was a mystery. Clearly in pain and unable to find solace with her husband, though I do wish she had tried harder to break through his wall of silence. And speaking of Henry … What a complex man! I was conflicted about my feelings for him – liking and admiring him on one hand; disgusted and disappointed in him on the other.

As in the other novels by Watson that I’ve read, Orchard is written with a strong sense of time and place. Of course, I am very familiar with Door County, Wisconsin, so that may have some bearing on my reaction. Still, set in the 1950s, I think the rural vs tourist-centered nature of the place really comes across, as does the isolation of winter or the glory of summer.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I read this because I read Montana 1948 and loved it. Let's just say the darkness of this story urged me on so that I could reward myself with something lighter. ( )
  whybehave2002 | Feb 4, 2015 |
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Ned, a philandering painter, uses Sonja as his model. But she becomes more than his model and more than an object of desire-she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known. When both Ned and her husband insist on possessing her, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence, and Sonja must find a way to placate both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.

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