Author: Amanda Coplin
Hardcover: 426 pages
Published date: August 2012
FTC: Received to review for TLC Book Tours
I've been trying to back off from receiving a whole lot of review books. I'm a little back logged and I want to make sure I get to them all. When I first was offered The Orchardist I was intrigued but declined. Since then I've seen so many good reviews and things about this book that I decided to join the TLC Book Tour. The Orchardist is a beautifully written American Western whose characters can't help but make an impression.
Back of the book:
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.
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I cracked open this book. I was not expected to get swept away into a modern American Western story. When I say "modern" Western, it's because it's set slightly after the more normal 1800s than more traditional Westerns. Talmadge's story is at the turn of the 20th Century in the Pacific Northwest in a period of history where towns were very isolated, horses or your own two feet were your transportation, and where it wasn't too uncommon for bands of men including Native Americans to steal horses for auction. It was interesting to start seeing the little modern things start creeping into the characters' worlds - like their first train ride or getting their picture taken.
The story is beautifully written but kind of different. There are no traditional quotation marks when a character speaks, which in a book over 400 pages is actually not too often. Characters tend to think a whole lot more and choose their words carefully. The book is broken down into seven sections but after that, there are no real chapters. There are breaks quite often and sometimes even I was unsure why. Sometime a "chapter" could be a handful of pages and sometime just one paragraph. I'm not sure what method she used for the breaks because while sometimes it would change to another character's perspective, often a perspective would change without notice. I loved this method because lacking chapters really made me keep reading a lot later into the night than I probably should have and also it made the story flow as a whole. I could see how this might be confusing to some people though.
It says something about a book where the characters aren't the first thing I think of writing about. The setting almost seems to take over as main character. It's almost as if I've seen a movie I can visualize the orchard and Talmadge up on a ladder tending apricots while a little girl runs around helping him out. I really don't want to give too much away even on the characters or perspectives because I don't want you to know how the story goes. Talmadge is such a silent strong hero that you can't help but fall for his character. How he maintains and protects his orchard and those who end up being in his small, silent, and at first lonely world. Caroline Middey, Talmadge's friend in town becomes almost like a mother or grandmother figure. For some reason these two characters give off the Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert feeling of Anne of Green Gables - loving and trustworthy characters in their own ways.
Now that I've read this beautifully haunting story, I want to go back to all those reviews I've been seeing and read them again.
***Come back tomorrow as I will be giving away a beautiful hardcover copy of The Orchardist.
Amanda’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, March 5th: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, March 7th: Book Snob
Friday, March 8th: Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, March 12th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, March 14th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Friday, March 15th: 5 Minutes For Books
Saturday, March 16th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, March 18th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Tuesday, March 19th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, March 20th: Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, March 21st: Becca’s Byline
Monday, March 25th: Amused By Books
Tuesday, March 26th: A Library of My Own
Wednesday, March 27th: Silver’s Reviews
Thursday, March 28th: Between the Covers
Friday, March 29th: missris
Monday, April 1st: Lit and Life
Tuesday, April 2nd: Paperback Princess
TBD: The Written World