The Orchardist

Title: The Orchardist
Author: Amanda Coplin
Publisher: Harper (August 2012)
Pages: 448
Rating: 4 stars

Set in the late 1800s and turn of the century, The Orchardist is about a lonely man, who grows apple and apricot trees on his orchard in the Northwest United States. Talmadge lost his dad at young age and then his mother when he was 15. Soon after, his sister disappeared without a word. Years later he still agonizes over what happened to her and morns the loss of his only remaining family.

When two girls steal apples from Talmadge’s cart in town and later show up on his property, he has an undeniable urge to help them.

Della and Jane have escaped a rough life with an abusive “father” (Michaelson may or may not be their actual father. He owns a sort of child’s brothel). The sisters are pre-teens and are both pregnant. Talmadge nurses them back to health with the help of his friend, Caroline Middy. Though the girls escaped Michaelson’s hell, they are far from safe. Michaelson is looking for them.

The subject matter reminds me of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, because of the focus on descriptions of the land and how people are connected to it. The land is a major part of the book, especially how it will be divided after Talmadge’s death and how it changes over time with technological advancements.

The land is an important part, but family and human interaction is another big part. Talmadge is pretty bad at saying what he wants to say or even knowing how he feels about things. But he has a fierce sense of loyalty and protectiveness toward all of the women in his life, who are all so different. Della is a wayward soul, who chases thrills. Anglene is a homebody and a land lover after Talmadge’s own heart. And Caroline Middy is a smart, stubborn but caring, older lady. The range of characters that Amanda Coplin was able to encompass is vast. She includes Native Americans, townspeople, prisoners, country folks, etc. In addition to her varied characters, Coplin is a master of miscommunications, unspoken understandings, and confused and misplaced emotions.

The Orchardist is a joy to read! The suspenseful story kept me turning pages, but there was far more to it than that. The time period is such a fascinating one for orchardists and farmers in America. It was on the precipice of the Industrial Revolution going mainstream, which would change everything, including how Americans grow food, harvest, and sell it.

This book is beautifully and simply written, but in no way simplistic.

About Amanda Coplin

Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington. 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 Omi International Arts Center at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, she lives in Portland, Oregon.

Check out The Orcharist on Goodreads.

Other blogs on the tour:

Tuesday, August 21st: Cold Read

Wednesday, August 22nd: BooksAreTheNewBlack

Thursday, August 23rd: nomadreader

Monday, August 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, August 28th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, August 30th: girlichef

Monday, September 3rd: A Room of One’s Own

Tuesday, September 4th: The Written World

Wednesday, September 5th: The Lost Entwife

Thursday, September 6th: Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Monday, September 10th: Stiletto Storytime

Tuesday, September 11th: Write Meg

Wednesday, September 12th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]

Thursday, September 13th: Oh! Paper Pages

Thursday, September 20th: Shall Write

About Natalie Ramm

I read a lot, y'all.
This entry was posted in Books I read and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Orchardist

  1. trish says:

    As I was reading your review, I was thinking about how layered the book seems to be, and then your last sentence confirmed that. I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for being on the tour.


  2. Pingback: Amanda Coplin, author of the Orchardist, on tour August/September 2012 | TLC Book Tours

  3. Just came across your blog and think it’s great. I loved reading your thoughts on the Orchardist, a book I plan to read soon.


  4. Pingback: Much Madness is Divinest Sense » Blog Archive » The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin

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