“Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist is a haunting and epic debut with shades of Steinbeck.”



The Orchardist is a somber and melancholy read. It is a novel about grief and solace, but it’s not depressing. It is thoughtful. And it is beautiful.

It’s set on an apple orchard in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century. The main character is a reclusive orchardist named William Talmadge. He is a gentle and lonely figure; a solitary, simple man.

One ordinary day two pregnant and practically feral teenage girls appear in his orchard.

Their appearance sets in motion events that change his, the few people in his life and the lives of the two girls, forever. No one would expect that Talmadge would willing disrupt his quiet solitary life for them, but he does.

The teenage girls, Jane and Della, are sisters whose actions are driven by despair. The few intimates in Talmadge’s life include Caroline Middey, a midwife and herbalist. She is a strong and often harsh realist.

There’s also Clee, a mute Nez Perce Indian who has been Talmadge’s friend since childhood. And then there is Angeline. Angeline, the baby we watch grow up into a careful and thoughtful young girl. She is shy and vulnerable yet so strong. She was my favorite character. Her observances were so poetically written by Ms. Coplin that I often re-read them.

The Orchardist is a slow and satisfying read. A tale to be savored. This would be a great book club pick because there is so much to be dissected!

The quote from NPR on the front cover of the book: “A stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels” was put there with good reason.



Reviewed by:

Michele Marie

Added 5th November 2015