Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Book Thoughts - The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
audiobook read by Mark Bramhall
Synopsis from publisher -
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 at 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 them but also to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.
My thoughts -
This novel was absolutely mesmerizing in it's simplicity. This is not a novel that relies on heart-pounding action or page-turning adventure to keep the reader engaged. While there are certainly moments of edge-of-your-seat tension, this is a novel of relationships - relationships between unlikely people brought together by unusual circumstances, and relationships between broken people and the land that sustains and nurtures them.
Coplin's prose is beautiful - elegant and wild like the land she describes, she makes the orchard and the hills as much a part of the story as Talmadge and Della. Her descriptions are never overblown, but perfectly contained to allow the reader to see each scene, each character, each moment of the story along with her.
“Her hair gathered at her neck, its color in the lantern light like young oak. How like the orchard she was. Because of her slowness and the attitude in which she held herself - seemingly deferent, 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.”
Coplin's characters are heartbreaking. They are everyday people trying to weather overwhelming trials, and they are not always successful. They come together as an unlikely family, and they struggle to hold on to each other. These characters will invade your heart and burrow into your soul, and they will live in your thoughts long after the last page of the novel has ended.
I am confident this will be one of the most memorable reads of my year. It was absolutely stunning, and I know it will be a novel I will revisit in the years to come. Highly recommended - don't let this one pass you by.
Finished - 5/31/13
Source - audiobook from the public library
MPAA rating - PG-13 - lots of really bad things happen, but never in a gratuitous manner. I would absolutely give this novel to a mature teenager to read.
My rating - 10/10