At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist, William Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were loved ones. A gentle man, he's found solace in the sweetness of the fruit he grows and the quiet, beating heart of the land he cultivates. One day, two teenage girls appear and steal his fruit from the market; they later return to the outskirts of his orchard to see the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, the girls take up on Talmadge's land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. Just as the girls begin to trust him, men arrive in the orchard with guns, and the shattering tragedy that follows will set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but also to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.
Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, Amanda Coplin weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune. She writes with breathtaking precision and empathy, and in The Orchardist she crafts an astonishing debut novel about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of an ordered life when he opens his heart and lets the world in.
"Starred Review. [An] immensely affecting first novel." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Superb work from an abundantly gifted young writer." - Kirkus Reviews
"Starred Review. A breathtaking work from a genuinely accomplished writer Coplin's lyrical style and forceful storytelling provide many unexpected twists before the poignant conclusion." - Library Journal
"The prose abounds with poetic imagery, and the quotation-mark-free dialogue, which could seem like an affectation in a different type of story, emphasizes the melding of these solitary characters with the vast, wild place they choose to call home." - Booklist
"[A] mysterious, compelling, elemental novel In The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin shows us what's unknowable." - Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award finalist, American Salvage
"Within this world are compelling characters and their equally compelling stories. The Orchardist is an outstanding debut." - Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena and The Cove
"Coplin is a masterful writer, the teller of an epic, unvarnished tale that sits comfortably with other novels in the tradition of great American storytelling." - Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed
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Rated of 5
Still a 5!
Well, I've finished and 'The Orchardist' still gets a 5 (only because there are no 10s). What a beautiful story and so beautifully told. I, too, hated for it to end because just reading the words was such pleasure. I won't say much about the plot because each reader should experience the story in their own way. It will go on my shelf - between 'Cider House Rules' and 'The Greenhouse'.
Rated of 5
I loved absolutely everything about this book: the cover, the setting, the prose and the characters. That this is a first novel is staggering. Talmadge has lived alone for forty years, after the death of his mother and the disappearance of his sister, tending his orchards and giving a free pass to the wranglers and Indians that come onto his land with wild horses. His characters is stoic, strong, he is someone who always tries to do the right thing and he is someone I would love to meet in real life. Two young pregnant girls appear and they will be the catalyst for one of his greatest joys but also the cause of much sorrow. The beauty of the orchard is sharply contrasted with the violence that eventually comes his way. Although the subject and the tone verge on the melancholic , the novel is so beautifully written , the descriptions of the land, with the orchards so alive that this novel genders much admiration rather than depression. There are so many quotes I could choose from this book but this one is one of my favorites. "Her hair gathered at her neck, its color in the lantern light like a young oak. How like the orchard she was. Because of her slowness and the attitude in which she held herself - seemingly different, quiet - it appeared even a harsh word would smite her. But it would not. She was like an egg encased in iron. She was the dream of the place that bore her, and she did not even know it."
I truly did not want this book to end and wish I could read it again for the first time.
Rated of 5
Poetry disguised as prose
I am not completely finished with this book but couldn't wait to give it my '5'. Amanda Coplin weaves a most amazing story of some very unusual, ordinary people. The way she tells the story is true genius. She brings the reader along at a pace of her own choosing - and it is just right. This book, 'The Orchardist' will join my short list of favorites.
I picked it originally because it takes place in a part of the Northwest I am very familiar with. She tells of these places and what they mean to the characters as she tells the story. A story I won't soon forget. Maybe it will go next to 'Cider House Rules'!
Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington, and raised amid her grandfather's orchards. She received her BA from the University of Oregon, and MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and the Ledig House International Writers Residency Program in Ghent, New York, she lives in Portland, Oregon.
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