Monday, July 15, 2013
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
The novel takes place in rural Oregon in the early twentieth century. Talmadge tends his apple orchard and leads a peaceful, solitary life. Takes his fruit to market, talks to few people, dozes off for a while and then heads back to his orchard. Many years before, his mother arrived at this place with both Talmadge and his sister Elsbeth in tow, and here he has remained some forty years or so after the death of his mother (he was just thirteen) and the strange disappearance of his sister.
On one of these trips to market, two young girls, both very pregnant, dirty and hungry steal some apples from Talmadge. He does not pursue them. Back home he is in the trees picking apples when he can see them hidden in the grass, watching. And so begins the cat & mouse game...he starts leaving food out and sits back in his cabin where he can hear them on the porch, he does not approach them..only dirty dishes left behind as a clue that they had been there.
An unlikely relationship develops and he begins looking after these girls, although few words are said between them. Then one day an ugly group of men come looking for the girls, and what follows is heartbreaking. Life for Talmadge after that is anything but peaceful.
If you have read Toni Morrison's Beloved you will understand when I say this novel is a bit mystic. If you have read Grapes of Wrath you will understand when I say that the orchard and the land is described so that you think you are there with Talmadge tending the trees.
Outstanding, mythical, intense, awesomely written first novel.( Coplin tells that she took eight years to write it.) This is a MUST read..this will become a classic, a book destined to remain on library shelves forever. One of the best books I have read in years and years. My daughter-in-law lent me this book, knowing I would love it. I am ordering a copy of my own..I am hoping to get it autographed someday by Coplin, truly a great and gifted writer.