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The Orchardist ➽ [Reading] ➿ The Orchardist By Amanda Coplin ➲ – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Set in the untamed American West, a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the landYou belo Set in the untamed American West, a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the landYou belong to the earth, and the earth is hardAt the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, a solitary orchardist named Talmadge carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century A gentle, solitary man, he finds solace and purpose in the sweetness of the apples, apricots, and plums he grows, and in the quiet, beating heart of the land the valley of yellow grass bordering a deep canyon that has been his home since he was nine years old Everything he is and has known is tied to this patch of earth It is where his widowed mother is buried, taken by illness when he was just thirteen, and where his only companion, his beloved teenaged sister Elsbeth, mysteriously disappeared It is where the horse wranglers native men, mostly Nez Perce pass through each spring with their wild herds, setting up camp in the flowering meadows between the treesOne day, while in town to sell his fruit at the market, two girls, barefoot and dirty, steal some apples Later, they appear on his homestead, cautious yet curious about the man who gave them no chase Feral, scared, and very pregnant, Jane and her sister Della take up on Talmadage s land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion Yet just as the girls begin to trust him, brutal men with guns arrive in the orchard, and the shattering tragedy that follows sets Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect them, putting himself between the girls and the world, but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled pastWriting with breathtaking precision and empathy, Amanda Coplin has crafted 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 Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, she weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune, bound by their search to discover the place they belong At once intimate and epic, evocative and atmospheric, filled with haunting characters both vivid and true to life, and told in a distinctive narrative voice, The Orchardist marks the beginning of a stellar literary careerThe National Book Foundation selected Amanda Coplin as one of the authors being honored asUnderin.


10 thoughts on “The Orchardist

  1. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    Let s state it up front This is a GREAT book Not a pretty good book with some nice qualities, but a powerful, beautiful, thoughtful and incredibly moving work of art that will be read for generations The Orchardist is evenincredible for being a first novel, the best first I have read since Edgar Sawtelle Yes, that good Talmadge had lived forty years in the orchard without any exceptional event happening to him, barring inclement weather or some horticultural phenomenon Nothing to s Let s state it up front This is a GREAT book Not a pretty good book with some nice qualities, but a powerful, beautiful, thoughtful and incredibly moving work of art that will be read for generations The Orchardist is evenincredible for being a first novel, the best first I have read since Edgar Sawtelle Yes, that good Talmadge had lived forty years in the orchard without any exceptional event happening to him, barring inclement weather or some horticultural phenomenon Nothing to speak of in the human realm, really And then this happened He had had a tough time of it After the mining death of his father in 1857, when he was nine years old, his mother traveled with him and his sister, Elspeth, north and west until they found a suitable piece of land in what is now Washington State There they set up a farm Three years later mom passes, and Talmadge and his one year younger sister are left on their own to run it Oh, and toss in a bout of smallpox that he manages to survive a few years later A year after that, at the ripe old age of 17, his sister takes off Some childhood When we meet Talmadge he is well into middle age One day while at the market with his produce, he spots two filthy teen age girls stealing some of his apples and everything changes Amanda Coplin image from Vol 1 Brooklyn Talmadge is a man who has lived most of his life alone With the arrival of these girls he sees a chance to have what he always wanted, a family But they are totingthan just hunger and the bulges in their young bellies The girls had had a particularly difficult youth, orphaned very young, ill used after, and their fear makes it difficult for them to accept Talmadge as someone they can trust They take up residence on his land He takes care of them as much as they will allow When the man from whom they are fleeing arrives, events take a very dark turn.The core story of the novel is Talmadge s struggle to save one of these runaways from the darkness both without and within, what he gains, loses, experiences and learns You will love him He is a good, good man, trying his very best in extremely trying circumstances He will spend the rest of his life trying to do right by the young lives that have been placed into his hands, despite their resistance Maybe in doing this Talmadge is doing what he hoped someone would have done for his long vanished sister One of his charges travels a similar path, searching always for that connection to her lost one He has two amazing friends Clee is a mute Nez Perce who Talmadge has known since arriving, and Caroline Middey is a local healer, a sort of big sister for him The depiction of Talmadge s friendships with Clee and Caroline is rich and incredibly moving Coplin has made many of her subsidiary characters come alive The text is sewn with descriptions of small pieces of this verdant and sometimes harsh world These passages glow, capturing the vibrant beauty of the land, the affection the residents have for it and the depth of their connection Coplin has a gift for description You can feel the warm sun on your skin, the breeze brushing past your cheek as it ripples fields of grass He did not articulate it as such, but he thought of the land as holding his sister her living form, or her remains He would keep it for her, then, untouched All that space would conjure her, if not her physical form, then an apparition she might visit him in dreams, and tell him what had gone wrong, why she had left him Where did she exist if not on earth was there such a place and did he want to know about it, if it existed What was a place if not earthbound His mind balked He was giving her earth, to feed her in that place that was without it An endless gift, a gesture that seemed right and it need never be reciprocated, for it was a gift to himself as well, to be surrounded by land, by silence, and always but how could this be, after so much time by the hope that she might step out of the trees, a woman now, but strangely the same, and reclaim her position in that place The land itself is family There are other manifestations of this connection between people and nature The Nez Perce deal in horses and one of the girls becomes enad of these animals the way Talmadge is bound to his orchard, seeing in the horses the same presence of a lost loved one that Talmadge sees in his land Coplin, whose parents owned orchards in the Wenatchee County where her novel is set, knows of what she describes In my family, which is somewhat nontraditional some of us are related by blood, some not there is a history of domestic violence, and sexual and substance abuse When I was growing up, only some of this was known to me I sensed it without understanding what it was but what was immediately before me, what was right in front of my face was the immense beauty of the landscape orchards, wheat fields, forests and people who did not hurt me, but loved me very much and were affectionate and kind These elements a child s half knowledge of a painful family past, and sensitivity to the physical landscape formed the book There is such sadness here We feel with Talmadge the loss of his sister, and it is hard not to choke up even when recalling this, long after having read the book There is also the fire of hope that Talmadge guards, nurtures, that offers light by which to steer his course He travels a hard road to find what he wants, needs, to give what he can, what he must You cannot read this book without coming to feel for this man, and to admire the skill, and clearly love, with which he has been crafted I thought of The Old Man and the Sea, except in this case the fish the old man is trying to bring home is a lost soul of a young woman, who is in danger of being consumed before he can get her to port Coplin, though, says that her models were Faulkner and Toni Morrison I leave it to those better versed than I to go into detail on those comparisons.There is beautiful mirroring in use here Talmadge is searching for some peace, denied him as a child, while the young woman he wants to help is searching for a peace of her own, so long denied her by the guilt she feels for a decision taken when she was still young Both Talmadge and his charge keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves A scene in which horses are broken reminds a runaway of how people were broken in her earlier experience Silences pervade in this remote place Talmadge s mother had preferred quiet to almost anything, and Talmadge acquired the trait Clee, of course, does not actually speak at all, and we learn that Elspeth had difficulty speaking as well The two runaways also speak little.There is an existential theme that permeates Where does one s self leave off and everything else begin There was no wilderness to lose oneself inside She touched her face in the dark she had her self But then, she thought, her self was nothing She was nothing Later A gentle wind, a kind of sighing, moved over the earth and for a moment he felt as if his body had evaporated And again when she was alone, when she was working, it was as if she forgot about herself It seemed strange to state it this way but it was as if she had no outline, no body, even though the work was very physical Where did her mind go Her mind was steeped in the task at hand At such times she felt a depth of kinship with the earth There are events that take place towards the back end of this tale that some readers might find a bit of a stretch Would this person go that far to achieve the desired end Maybe, maybe not But it did not detract from the whole for me The Orchardist is not just a moving portrait of a remarkable man, but a look at how people relate to place Not so long ago, I walked with my youngest through a particular stretch of Greenwich Village recalling events from a lifetime ago This happened here That happened there An event took place in that building on the corner that changed my life This is where I first set eyes on I did this and such there I told her that these streets and buildings held ghosts that called to me, remember, connections I cannot imagine abandoning for another locale I get this connection to land, even if my orchard consists of wood and concrete structures and city streets rather than sylvan swaths, and bears a spectral fruit that only I can consume I imagine most of us have similar experiences, history and place entwined in memory, sealed in, and maybe emerging from a particular patch of earth Talmadge s attachment is probably muchintense than many of ours, but it will resonate, I expect, for most The Orchardist tells a sometimes harsh andtimes beautiful story You will care Definitely have some tissues at the ready This is a great one and you will not want to miss it EXTRA STUFFCoplin s site does not really add much The most recent update on her FB page is from November 2016AC reading from the bookA video interview with the author from AM Northwest Reading Group guide from LitLovers8 17 12 A review in the Washington Post should post a spoiler alert, but if that is not a problem for you the review is quite lovely.8 23 12 Another glowing review, this one from NPR s Jane Ciabattari, A Lyrical Portrait Of Life And Death In The Orchard3 7 13 Amanda Coplin wins the Discover Great New Writers award for fiction from Barnes and Noble


  2. Lulu Lulu says:

    SPOILER ALERT This was a slow, luxurious read for the first 200 pages I was steeped in the landscape, the time period, the characters and enough of a plot to keep me turning the pages The writing was deceptively simple at times, almost staccato in rhythm, yet highly evocative and well matched to the rural setting of the book I was captivated by Coplin s beautiful prose and her instinct to reveal just enough about her characters but never too much inner detail, as if seen through a veil How SPOILER ALERT This was a slow, luxurious read for the first 200 pages I was steeped in the landscape, the time period, the characters and enough of a plot to keep me turning the pages The writing was deceptively simple at times, almost staccato in rhythm, yet highly evocative and well matched to the rural setting of the book I was captivated by Coplin s beautiful prose and her instinct to reveal just enough about her characters but never too much inner detail, as if seen through a veil However mid way the novel climaxes and the reader is left wondering what 200pages is going to add to the experience The answer is not much I did finish out of a sense of duty and a vague expectation thatwould be revealed in the latter half, or that the plot would take a hairpin turn of some sort though the pace was steady if not plodding throughout Perhaps that is the way life is, unexceptional, dull even at times.It certainly isn t fair, and that isthan represented in The Orchardist But this book could have used a littleplot, especially on the back end That is, ultimately, the reason I read to hear a good story, well toldchokengtitiktitikchokengs 7 16 13 at one point I developed a theory that would have made the bookinteresting I think what if Jane and Della were really Talmadge s nieces, the missing pieces to the puzzle of where his sister had disappeared so many years ago What if his sister had been snatched by Michaelson and brought to his brothel, where she gave birth to Jane and Della who eventually escaped and found their way to Talmadge, in a karmic kind of completion Full circle THAT would have made the last 200 pages zip along


  3. Julie Christine Julie Christine says:

    It is a rare read that cuts through the surface noise of daily life and becomes the one sound you can hear clearly, like a church bell on a still winter morning It commands your full attention and you willingly shut out the world and surrender to the power of its images, characters and the force of its story Amanda Coplin s debut novel, The Orchardist, is one such book Set in the early years of the 20th century in the golden valleys and granite hills of Chelan county in north central Washingt It is a rare read that cuts through the surface noise of daily life and becomes the one sound you can hear clearly, like a church bell on a still winter morning It commands your full attention and you willingly shut out the world and surrender to the power of its images, characters and the force of its story Amanda Coplin s debut novel, The Orchardist, is one such book Set in the early years of the 20th century in the golden valleys and granite hills of Chelan county in north central Washington state, The Orchardist is a fierce and poetic story of the Northwest frontier William Talmadge, the orchardist, has led a secluded, solitary life since he was a young man Orphaned in early adolescence, he and his younger sister Elsbeth, worked on their own to build and maintain acres of apple and apricot orchards in the Wenatchee Valley When she turns sixteen, Elsbeth vanishes Whether she is taken or disappears of her own volition is a question that will haunt Talmadge as the century turns and he enters the later years of his life Talmadge provides refuge to two young women who appear in his orchard one day, filthy, starving and pregnant By inviting them into his home, he opens the door to great tragedy and profound love Talmadge is a nurturer it is an undeniable facet of his character that he seeks to repair what has been damaged by neglect or abuse, whether it is sapling or a human heart But, as Talmadge learns, even the most tender care, the strongest scion of love and compassion, cannot heal all wounds Coplin s prose is exhilarating She composes with quiet confidence, her narrative rich in period detail And although she describes ugly circumstances the suffering of women trapped in desperate conditions, a time when deprivation and disease swept through communities with shocking regularity she writes with such empathy and beauty that the heart is reminded to hope And the heart is rewarded And it is shattered Coplin s writing is uniquely and brilliantly her own, but a few favorite authors came to my mind while reading The Orchardist Toni Morrison, for her evocative and dark period pieces and haunted women Ivan Doig for the warmth of his characters and his passion for the West Kent Haruf for his restraint and gentleness Tim Winton for his truth telling about the complicated nature of family I always hold my breath when encountering a familiar setting or terrain in a book will the author have a feel for the place, its light and colors, its scents and temperatures Will she follow the undulations of its land and the shapes in its cities Coplin, a native of the Wenatchee Valley, not only conveys the beauty of the sage steppe of the Cascade mountain foothills, the gold of its valleys, the shimmering glory of its aspen forests and glacial lakes, she erases the damage wrought by the past one hundred years of development You are taken to a time when the air and water were so pure, the land so unscathed, that you cry in homesickness for a place you never really knew The names from my home, Wenatchee, Cashmere, Ellensburg, Methow, Walla Walla, Chelan, Okanogan, Stehekin, Dungeness, are renewed and flow through this novel like poetry.This is one of those novels I want to carry around to show everyone, to bring up in every conversation even tangentially related to reading or the Northwest I cried when I turned its final page I wept for the characters, for the past, for the gift of reading sentences so beautifully and thoughtfully constructed I reckon this will be my top read of 2012 Brava, Amanda Thank you


  4. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    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 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 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 I truly did not want this book to end and wish I could read it again for the first time


  5. Tom Tom says:

    The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin marks the debut of a talented new American writer But midway through the novel I paused and asked myself, why am I reading this Is it believable Coplin s spare, post modern prose was controlled and the voice unique The setting the dry eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains at the turn of the 20th Century was also unique and evocatively rendered The characters possessed a timeless, mythic quality as if carved from stone, and the story itself, as one book blur The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin marks the debut of a talented new American writer But midway through the novel I paused and asked myself, why am I reading this Is it believable Coplin s spare, post modern prose was controlled and the voice unique The setting the dry eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains at the turn of the 20th Century was also unique and evocatively rendered The characters possessed a timeless, mythic quality as if carved from stone, and the story itself, as one book blurb described it, felt as if it were the subject of an old folksong But for me the book seemed somehow flawed.Coplin invents a time and place shapedby her own imagination, by her own emotions toward the curious world she conjures, than by the historical record She failed to persuade me that her invention was anythingthan a romantic hallucination.One can argue that all history is a re imagining, a re visioning of the past But history relies on testimony new facts, or overlooked facts, but always something factual from the record Fiction needs no facts, and may even be harmed by them But if a writer places a story within the historical context, can the temporal facts, anythan the laws of physics, be disregarded When a writer imagines a story in turn of the century Washington that behaves like a gothic romance in the vein of Wuthering Heights, as Amanda Coplin does, am I, the reader, to accept this as a poetic truth Mind, being compared to Bronte ain t bad, but let s face it, her book, which was such an original hallmark of the Romantic movement, would be just another bodice ripper today In a Seattle Times interview, Coplin acknowledges that she wholly invented the heinous crime that launches her story Her main character, Talmadge, the orchardist, seems ageless and monolithic in his solitude, silence and fixed compassion archetypal perhaps, yet hardly historically authentic Coplin s other characters, the feral sisters Jane and Della for example, seem noreal except in the raw emotions that propel them And the villain, described in the New York Times as an evildoer of spaghetti western proportions, suffers from a similar lack of verisimilitude.Even the land Coplin so evocatively conjures the canyon orchards and pine forests assumes a virtual reality Like the heath in Hardy s novels or Bronte s moors, the terrain becomes a stage set, despite the inclusion of real place names.As I read on I kept asking myself, what am I to glean from this well written novel Am I to revise my historical perspective of the western frontier Coplin s post modern style might imply that Am I to view her characters as American archetypes Their unchanging, stone like nature might imply that as well, and the orchard setting seems primed for a parable or allegory But, if so, about what As you can see, I had trouble putting my finger on the problem I had with a book I nonetheless enjoyed reading So I compared it to other books.Cormac McCarthy s Blood Meridian came to mind Written in an equally spare, modern style, it is equally evocative of the western terrain, with equally fixed, archetypal characters And if ever there was a book conjured from an author s imagination, Blood Meridian is it But the truth coursing through Blood Meridian comes from a historical fact the existence of the scalp hunting Glanton gang and from the thematic postulate supported by its epigraph from a real newspaper article that killing is the natural state of man Is Coplin arguing that mute nurturing is our natural state Without some historical basis, I don t buy her argument The story rings false, fanciful, and the inherent tragedy seems contrived the stuff of gothic romance.Coplin mentions the influence of the great Australian writer Patrick White, in particular his novel Voss I wish she had studied White s even better novel, The Tree of Man White conveys the same physical and emotional isolation she does, but he avoids imagined evil and its sensational consequences his book remains grounded in the lyrical truth of historical experience and expands because of it.Marcel Proust believed a single book does not allow us to know an author Only through multiple books can we distinguish what is book specific from what is distinctive about the author Curiously, McCarthy s first novel, The Orchard Keeper, suffers from the same post modern gothic excess as The Orchardist I look forward to Amanda Coplin s next book in order to see what is truly distinctive about her vision I believe she is capable of work as original as McCarthy s and as luminous as White s


  6. Margitte Margitte says:

    Random notes A blended family in which marriages never played any roles Lonely, orphaned people who landed up taking care of each other Good people being treated badly bad people being treated good The sadness of time sweeping over history and destroying evidence of lives lived and loved Plum conserve with walnuts and raisins for the long winter days Apples, pears, walnuts, apricots, vegetables and horses An ode to loneliness in the richest tones imaginable A story abou Random notes A blended family in which marriages never played any roles Lonely, orphaned people who landed up taking care of each other Good people being treated badly bad people being treated good The sadness of time sweeping over history and destroying evidence of lives lived and loved Plum conserve with walnuts and raisins for the long winter days Apples, pears, walnuts, apricots, vegetables and horses An ode to loneliness in the richest tones imaginable A story about women and all their complexities A lonely man with a golden heart and an unlovable physique Children Their purpose being to bind us to the earth and to the present, to distract us from death An introduction with this quoteThe roses you gave me kept me awake with the sound of their petals falling. Jack Gilbert.Main characters TalmadgeAngeleneCaroline MiddeyCreeDella and Janet MichaelsonIt is a tale of three graves on a mountain plateau, under a prehistoric cottonwood tree with its small silver green leaves that flashed constantly in the wind It was the only tree on the plateau that was not a fruit tree The plateau was the place where the yellow grass waved in the wind and the air smelled of honeysuckle and duffwriting silence over an overarching bigger silence Insects were percolating in the grass in their private and intimate murmurings The sun on the porous bank where she stood was lit up, incandescent, the minerals glittering and the dull mud peculiar and particular even in its dullness Each pore and streak and detail was washed and brought forth as is a person s face by the lightIt is a tale of women with mother s instinct with no children women without mother s instinct with children and a woman with mother s instinct and children.It is the tale of a lonely man who tried to take care of all these women crossing his path as best as he could I can imagine the orchards in the mountains, so remote and perhaps isolated, that nobody, apart from Talmadge ever wanted to live there and prosper His mother brought him, as a nine year old boy, and his sister, Elsbeth, to this remote place, 1857, fleeing a former life in the north central portion of the Oregon Territory, where his father worked in the silver minesShe craved a solitude that verged on the violent A solitude that forced you constantly back upon yourself, even when you did not want it any She wanted a place that would absorb and annihilate her After establishing them in the deserted cabin in the mountains, his mother died on them in 1860 His sister would stay until her wings were strong enough to fly Elsbeth Colleen Talmage left to never return 1865 it was.Two orphaned girls stole apples from his wagon, one day in town That was after he lived on his property in the mountains for forty years without any exceptional event happening to him until that day They had enough emotional and physical baggage to fill up several lifetimes for normal people Fate had a hand to play in the card game dealt for Talmaged and his spread of land Ms Caroline Middey, the herbalist in town, could not determine the outcome, but she was able to anchor this lost man in his own tale of loyalty, integrity, friendship and loss For him, love arrived in different forms and flourished under totally different names He was a master orchardist A man who knew how to deal with sapplings of his outstanding apple, plum and apricot trees He kept constant watch over them, building wooden latticework to support them during their precarious adolescence Some of his experiments failed, were destroyed by weather or circumstances Others, however, flourished In the beginning there was Talmadge The ending was Angelene This can be regarded as a Kent Haruf noir novel Realism underscoring imagination painting womenhood in shades of gray using manhood as the canvas on which the fairy tale stick figures pirouette to different rhythms of the brush, bringing different color nuances to the final painting, set against the plateau The prose is picturesque and atmospheric, intense and metaphoric A very very good read indeed


  7. Dem Dem says:

    The Orchardist is beautifully written and stunning debut novel by Amanda Coplin I was really impressed with this book It isn t a fast paced novel by any means it ischaracter based than plot based but the characters and sense of place are so exquisitely written that I did not want this book to finish.Set at the turn of the century in a rural stretch of Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist by the name of William Talmadge tends to apples and apricots A gentle man who spends his time The Orchardist is beautifully written and stunning debut novel by Amanda Coplin I was really impressed with this book It isn t a fast paced novel by any means it ischaracter based than plot based but the characters and sense of place are so exquisitely written that I did not want this book to finish.Set at the turn of the century in a rural stretch of Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist by the name of William Talmadge tends to apples and apricots A gentle man who spends his time among his fruit trees when one day two teenage girls appears and steals his fruit from the market place What transpires changes Talmadge s life forever.First of all, so glad I bought this book in Paperback and not downloaded to my kindle as the cover is stunning and really sets the scene for the novel This is one of those books you want on your bookshelf Having recently finished East of Eden by John Steinbeck I found coplin s prose just as fresh and compelling and would certainly see how if you liked East of Eden you would enjoy the characters and pace of the Orchardist.I especially loved the sense of time and place of this novel and I loved the detailed descriptions of the land and Talmadge s work as an orchardist on the frontier While this isn t a light novel I at no stage found it depressing This is a story about loss and yearning and deals with some tough subject matter but I never felt Coplin dragged the story down with unnecessary graphic or ugly scenes.This is a well written, slow paced, character driven novel with a storyline and characters that are fresh and complex A well deserved 5 star read for me


  8. Carol Carol says:

    This is a gorgeous book powerful, moving and beautifully written with a spare, eloquent writing style similar to Kent Haruf, one of my favorite authors The story takes place in Washington State at the beginning of the 20th century yet in tone, it reminded me so much of Haruf s novel, Plainsong, which was also lean and lyrical Talmadge, a quiet, compassionate and solitary man attempts to befriend two feral and pregnant runaway girls, Della and Jane, who were orphaned very young and shaped by h This is a gorgeous book powerful, moving and beautifully written with a spare, eloquent writing style similar to Kent Haruf, one of my favorite authors The story takes place in Washington State at the beginning of the 20th century yet in tone, it reminded me so much of Haruf s novel, Plainsong, which was also lean and lyrical Talmadge, a quiet, compassionate and solitary man attempts to befriend two feral and pregnant runaway girls, Della and Jane, who were orphaned very young and shaped by horrific abuse afterwards Basically, the story is about his intense connection to his orchard and also his attempts to love, care for and protect these two damaged women and one of their offspring, Angeline Angeline s father like relationship with this wonderful man was so touching for me The love between Talmadge and Angeline throughout their years together was a prominent theme in this novel I found myself relating to the adult Angeline when she returns to the orchard to view the graves and reminisce under the old Cottonwood tree She remembers that old Cottonwood tree as so much larger I was reminded of one summer when I drove by my old childhood home in a tiny, Eastern Colorado town That home was so much smaller than my recollection and now looks rather forlorn I was saddened to see the old trees gone It was hard to believe that such a small and modest home held so many rich and wonderful memories for me This author conjured up those same familiar memories once again I was persuaded to read this book because of all the glowing reviews on GR I feared that I might find it a dull slog but it was as compelling for me to read as any thriller


  9. Michael Michael says:

    I loved the balance between reflection and emotional engagement in this tale The sense of connection between working the land and creation of a bridge to save the human heart It makes me hold a fancy word on my tongue luminous It appears apt for how the universal shines through the particular in the book s clear prose, how the natural world is cast in a clear light, banishing the dark shadows of life to a compost of the soil.This is the story of Talmadge, an unmarried orchardist in the Went I loved the balance between reflection and emotional engagement in this tale The sense of connection between working the land and creation of a bridge to save the human heart It makes me hold a fancy word on my tongue luminous It appears apt for how the universal shines through the particular in the book s clear prose, how the natural world is cast in a clear light, banishing the dark shadows of life to a compost of the soil.This is the story of Talmadge, an unmarried orchardist in the Wentchatee Valley of central Washington State at the end of the 19th century At the beginning of the tale, he is in his 40 s, living a pretty lonely life, but blessed by two particular friends One is a herbalist and midwife, Caroline Middey, and the other a Nez Perce named Clee, who comes through each year with captured wild horses from the mountains to break and sell.From the beginning, we learn how grief shapes Talmadge s life His father died when he was a child, leading his mother to travel with him and his sister to find a better life They end up taking up residence at an abandoned homestead where they begin a life growing and selling apples and apricots After she too dies while Talmadge is a teenager, he and his younger sister continue to develop the farm as resilient orphans It is a third loss which haunts Talmadge the most, the inexplicable disappearance of his sister This book starts with two teenaged runaway girls stealing apples from his fruit stand and later food from his home Rather than driving them away, he extends his protection and his heart They are pregnant and fearful of a man they are running from When that fear becomes tragically realized, Talmadge tries his best to forge a solution for one of the girls, Della, to guide her toward the life of an orchardist But she has too much distrust in people, and her restlessness, as wild as the horses she becomes transfixed by, leads her to a rootless searching life beyond his reach Instead, Talmadge invests himself in the precious task of raising the child Angelene Coplin s skills in evoking a sense of place and how the rhythms of farm life bind one s spirit are illustrated by this sample about Talmadge from the beginning of the book He regarded the world objects right in front of his face as if from a great distance For when he moved on the earth he also moved in other realms In certain seasons, in certain shades, memories alighted on his like sharp taloned birds a head turning in the foliage, lantern light flaring in the room And there were other constant preoccupations he likewise half acknowledged in which his attention was nevertheless steeped at all times present and past projects in the orchard trees he had helped to plant experiments with grafting and irrigation jam recipes cellar temperatures how to draw bees.It is remarkable for a writer so young to be so wise about the ways of grief Suffering had formed him made him silent, deliberate, thoughtful deep Generous and kind and attentive, although he had been that before Each thoughtful gesture hoping to extend back, far back, to reach his sister, to locate her somewhere It had happened so long ago he had continued with his life, accepted her absence This was what he told himself, and it was partly true But other times even his flesh was sensitive to the air, and what could have befallen her and what she had suffered tortured him The litany of possibilities always hung about him, and during periods of weakness he turned to it, scrolled through it amended some possibilities, added others Della s captivation with the wild horses is beautifully rendered in these sample passages It took a long time By the time Clee was finished the horse was shivering, brimming with wildness just contained Its flesh, and the air around its flesh, was primed with the energy of corroded nerves, of that which would not be dominated having miraculously been dominated She dreamed of them the horses in the field She dreamed of horses in the mountains at dusk She dreamed from the perspective of a horse running in a valley of dry grass, searching for yellow mountain daisies to eat The chevron of the herd The screaming on the high passes with other mountains in the background Della woke from these dreams with her heart beating fast, often in the dank cold of the toolshed Sometimes after these dreams, she discovered she had wet herself.As with the decades of nurturing it takes for his trees to reach fruition, Talmadge achieves a wonderful fulfillment in Angelene s development, as expressed so well here 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. Wild horses drew Della by the wildness within her can t help picturing young Scarlett Johansson in The Horse Whisperer My sense is that the core of the story is about the healing power of love How when your soul is damaged through losses in your own life, you have a particular stake in the fate of the young who have also experienced significant misfortune But then you have to eventually let go to allow them to succeed or fail to find their own way out of the darkness One s hope then looks to the next generation to make use of what you have built in this world Despite such themes, there is nothing sappy and sentimental in Coplin s rendering Instead, the rewards of reading this comes off like a cross between Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy, with both a broad vision of our connections to nature and a restrained rendering of interior mental efforts to make meaning out of what life deals us


  10. Tania Tania says:

    We do not belong to ourselves aloneThis is a beautiful, evocative novel The writing is slow and eloquent The orchardist is in many ways reminiscent of three of my best loved books Blessings, The Poisonwood Bible and The Snow Child In all of these stories there s a marked focus on the land So much so that the landscape almost becomes one of the characters.The author is alsoconcerned with the emotions behind an action or choice, than the action or choice itself Her descriptions of fee We do not belong to ourselves aloneThis is a beautiful, evocative novel The writing is slow and eloquent The orchardist is in many ways reminiscent of three of my best loved books Blessings, The Poisonwood Bible and The Snow Child In all of these stories there s a marked focus on the land So much so that the landscape almost becomes one of the characters.The author is alsoconcerned with the emotions behind an action or choice, than the action or choice itself Her descriptions of feelings are powerful, even though they are always understated.He did not expect her to be happy how that word lost meaning as the years progressed but he only wished her to be unafraid, and able to experience small joys.The story At the turn of the twentieth century, in a remote stretch of Northwest America, a solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were his children One day, two teenage girls steal his fruit at the market Feral, scared and very pregnant, they follow Talmadge to his land and form an unlikely attachment to his gentle way of life But their fragile peace is shattered when armed men arrive in the orchard In the tragedy that unfolds, Talmadge must fight to save the lives of those he has learned to love while confronting the ghosts of his own troubled past The Orchardist is an astonishing and unforgettable epic about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of his life when he opens his heart and lets the world in


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