At the Edge of the Orchard Summary and Reviews

At the Edge of the Orchard

by Tracy Chevalier

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier X
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2016
    304 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

From internationally bestselling author Tracy Chevalier, a riveting drama of a pioneer family on the American frontier.

1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck – in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.

1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert's past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.

Chevalier tells a fierce, beautifully crafted story in At the Edge of the Orchard, her most graceful and richly imagined work yet.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. With Chevalier's excellent storytelling ability and gift for creating memorable characters, this novel paints a vivid picture of the hard and rough-hewn life of American pioneers on their Westward journey." - Library Journal

"Chevalier (The Last Runaway, 2013) excels at creating a highly accessible read that takes a surprisingly dark look at the brutal conditions of frontier life." - Booklist

"Nonfictional details bring the novel authenticity, often at the expense of character development or narrative cohesion." - Kirkus

"Chevalier is a master at foregrounding the small, dramatic stories of overlooked people from the past." - Geraldine Brooks

"Sometimes, a book comes along that somehow ticks all the boxes. This is one of those books: The voices are rich and individual; the attention to detail impressive; the scent of apples, damp earth, and pines runs potently through the whole. A joy." - Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat

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Reader Reviews

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sara

poor poor poor
maybe I am missing something but I feel like the boy in the Emperor's New Clothes who points out that the king in naked. This was pure torture to wade through. The characters are not real and there is no plot except to talk about abuse, sex, and disjointed travels. The only saving grace is the history of the region, and the info about apples.

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Author Information

Tracy Chevalier Author Biography

Tracy Chevalier was born in Washington, DC but has lived in England all her adult life. She now has dual citizenship. She has a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio and an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. She lives in London with her English husband and son. Before turning to writing full-time, she was a reference book editor for several years. She has written 7 novels. Her second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, sold 4 million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.

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