The Orchardist

The Orchardist

A Novel

Book - 2012
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At once intimate and epic, The Orchardist is historical fiction at its best, in the grand literary tradition of William Faulkner, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Ondaatje, Annie Proulx, and Toni Morrison.

In her stunningly original and haunting debut novel, Amanda Coplin evokes a powerful sense of place, mixing tenderness and violence as she spins an engrossing tale of a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West, and the dramatic consequences of his actions.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2012
ISBN: 9780062188502
Characteristics: 426 p


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Aug 02, 2020

Beautiful writing in this book. The story is quiet and slow moving, but the characters are deep and well thought out. What I enjoyed most about this book was her descriptions of the landscape. The landscape is essentially one of the characters in the book. It is reminded me a lot of Willa Cather's writing. Also, being from Washington and knowing these places made it an especially enjoyable read.

Mar 14, 2020

Yes, it is long. Because of the very fine print I could not continue reading due to serious eye fatigue. Disappointing.

Jul 30, 2019

This is a good but very long read. It's starts out with some pretty traumatic events and then leads into how those events effect the characters throughout their lives. I enjoyed the story and the characters but found it to drag toward the end when I really just wanted to know what would happen at the end.

TechLibrarian Mar 11, 2019

I chose this book thanks to a Novelist recommendation. (If you haven't tried Novelist yet, give it a whirl! It's a database that provides "readalikes" to help you find books that suit your taste.) In my case, Novelist recommended The Orchardist as a readalike to The Round House, and The Barkskins. I seem to be reading a lot of books with tree themes lately--this is no exception, though the author didn't go into much detail about the trees in the orchard, they just made for a lovely setting. The premise is that two girls arrive out of no where and disrupt a solitary man's life such that none of them will ever be the same. It was a good, non-romantic story about family and allegiance, with a bit of adventure. I also liked that it had a bit of an old-west-y feel, what with one of the main characters working at turns as a wrangler and in the forestry service.

Feb 04, 2019

A totally engaging story - perhaps one has to be an older person to appreciate the depth of this particular novel as it is so very relative to the aging process which may enable a person to look back with stunning recognition of the multitude of possibilities brought on by unforeseen life circumstances to one's own lived reality.

Apr 20, 2018

I'm familiar with the area the story is set in but I found it boring. It did depict a lot of how life was back then. I wanted to put it down but had to finish it for a book club.

ArapahoeStaff26 Dec 14, 2017

This stunning historical novel is set in a large apple and apricot orchard in the Northwest, at the beginning of the 20th century. The life-giving, slow growing, fruit-bearing trees and the humane, quietly emotional orchardist are inter-dependent and shaped by eachother. The story begins in horror (sexually/physically abused young girls who have run away and are now homeless and starving), moves through the lives of the survivors as the impact of tragedy and compassion plays out and ends with a vision of beauty and family love. Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus starred reviews.

CMLibrary_sally Oct 04, 2017

This is an amazing novel. The quiet prose makes you follow hang on each word looking for clues into the story. Highly recommended for book clubs.

Feb 17, 2017

Very dreamy, lyrical novel, the pace and character of which is intimately woven into the landscapes, the seasons, the unrelenting hardship and loneliness of a settler's life in Washington in the late 1800s through to the 1920s. The area around Wenatchee, Washington is beautifully evoked, as is Lake Chelan and the early years of the fledgling fruit industry as it grew to the large apple export industry it would eventually become with modern transportation options. On Talmadge's orchard, he is left alone with his thoughts and responsibilities until two violated runaway girls steal food from him, and overturn his carefully ordered life. The cast of characters' words to one another, sparse as they are, merge into their unspoken thoughts, unseparated by notation of grammatical punctuation. The Orchardist is an ode to love, to taking chances on seedlings which might or mightn't prosper, to the risk of welcoming that and those which might grow near you yet break you if lost, to keeping the love steady no matter the cost. The novel drags a bit mid-way, but it is a character-driven and descriptively wrought tale, and it moves itself back on to its steady, hard path, ending not with drums and a marching band, but quiet contemplation. Beautiful literature.

Feb 01, 2017

It held my attention in the beginning, and for the first third, approximately. Then the inability of any of the characters to open their mouths and talk to each other becomes tedious. Then extremely tedious. Finally, unbearably tedious. That would be tolerable if this were a book in which something happens, but it doesn't, much. I could sum up the plot in, probably, 3 sentences. I DID finish the book because it became a challenge to see if I could keep reading it and not throw it against the wall in frustration. Also, while there are lots of paragraphs about the orchard, I never really felt it. In fact, though clearly, by their actions, the main characters do have feelings, their inability to express them even through the author makes them seem two-dimensional. Unfortunately, the two main characters don't even have two dimensions that are clear. No one does.
In short (which nothing in the book was) not the characters, nor the setting, nor the writing is worth the effort of reading this book. It's a slog. You know what happens by reading the summary. Don't expect anything else to happen, because it doesn't.

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Jun 15, 2016

"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 land. You belong to the earth, and the earth is hard. At 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 trees.

One 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 past."

APlazek Feb 27, 2013

Amanda Coplin is a born storyteller. The story of the Orchardist is poignant and compelling, covering a nearly 20 year span at the turn of the 20th century. William Talmadge is a loner in his fifties who has been alone for over 30 years on his orchard. When 2 feral, pregnant teenagers begin skulking around the orchard and stealing his fruit he slowly works to create a relationship with them much against the advice of his good friend from town, Caroline Middey. What unflods is a story of love and longing.


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Jun 15, 2016

“She revered solitude, but only because there was the possibility of breaking it. Of communing at last with another.”

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