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The Orchardist

A Novel
Coplin, Amanda (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Orchardist


Item Details

At the turn of the 20th century in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a gentle solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots. Then two feral, pregnant girls and armed gunmen set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.
Authors: Coplin, Amanda
Title: The orchardist
a novel
Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper,, [2012], ©2012
Edition: First edition
Characteristics: 426 pages ;,24 cm
Summary: At the turn of the 20th century in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a gentle solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots. Then two feral, pregnant girls and armed gunmen set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.
Alternate Title: Orchardist
ISBN: 006218850X
9780062188502
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Report This Apr 19, 2014
  • Edgarmole rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

As a first novel this is stupendous -- polished, poetic writing, flawless for the first half, and better than average in the second half. In the last section I thought some actions of the protagonist were not quite in character. It s a quiet, thoughtful book, and the vivid portraits of the people and the landscape of rural Washington State in the 1800s are unforgettable. Having grown up in a rural area myself, I find Talmadge's taciturnity and reticence familiar, not eccentric. There are many instances where a kind person wants to help, but is not sure what to do. Various themes, such as what is the self, and what constitutes a family, are explored, but I think the main theme is the lost loved one -- there are at least ten examples of this. I grew to love the grizzled old man Talmadge, but wonder if the book would have been better if it had ended somewhat sooner. There are no quote marks in this book, which occasionally makes it difficult to tell who is speaking, or whether a person is speaking aloud or just thinking. Incidents are sometimes presented from several characters' point of view, in succession; this is an unusual technique, but effective. The novel proceeds at a languid pace, and the story line is more character-based than plot-based. The author uses a lot of similes and metaphors, and colorful vocabulary choices, e.g. She pinched out the correct change. Great book of historical fiction!

Report This Mar 29, 2014
  • lpodell rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Lovely, spare

Report This Mar 17, 2014
  • inthestacks rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

William Talmadge is a quiet, recluse of a man with few friends who has spent many years tending the fruit of his orchard. One day, he discovers two young girls, both pregnant and near-feral, stealing fruit from his trees. Slowly, he earns their trust as he leaves food out for them and provides them with a place to sleep. Eventually, he learns of their harrowing past, kept as prisoners and worked as prostitutes by a sadistic, drug-addled flesh-peddler. When the possibility of returning to their former lives arises, the girls make a dire choice, setting the tone for the rest of the novel. This first quarter of the novel is compelling and evocative. After that, however, it goes on for another 300 poorly-structured pages that are in need of some aggressive editing. The poetic prose that sustained the first part of the novel becomes strained and overwrought. The characters are a reticence bunch (there is little dialogue) whose failure to communicate with each other grows increasingly frustrating. Things might have worked out better for them if they had just talked to each other.

a wo0nderful book well worth reading

Report This Jan 22, 2014
  • PKtm rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Highly overrated book overall. It has its moments (the first section in particular), but could have used significant help in editing and tightening up both prose and plot. The book tries really really hard to be weighty and meaningful, but many of these efforts come off as overwrought and amateurish.

My Shawnee staff pick for Aug/Sept 2013.

Report This Nov 18, 2013
  • jholle4 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a great work of literature. Some complain it is too long, or too slow - I found it compelling, emotional, descriptive; a fantastic read.

Report This Oct 25, 2013
  • readingthewater rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Unquestionably brilliant writing. Trainwreck story. I could not make it past the nearly pervasive sense of impending doom. Literary Fiction fans read on.

Report This Sep 24, 2013
  • denhiscock rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A beautiful story of a kind man and how he deals with his personal demons and connects with two girls who are running from demons of their own. Spanned over many years detailing beautifully the feelings, thoughts and actions of two main characters and their strange but close relationship. A satisfying read.

mmm. If you are in love with the earth, and with Washington State, you may settle nicely into this story. A simple one really, nothing terrifically grandiose, rather "just life happening." Mid 1800s. Pioneering. Winding descriptions of hardships and steady work to feed oneself and care for people that matter. Orchards. Apricots. Apples. Pumpkins. Trials. Nez Perce. Jails. Rape and theft. Moonlit sonatas and burgeoning starry skies. Lost girls. Held girls. Hung girls. Babies stillborn and babies wiggling pink. Broken bottles, murder, lazy lakes, a midwife And a wizened passionate old man who has suffered great loss but who continues to put his back and his heart into the land and his loves. Good ol' Talmage.

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Report This Feb 27, 2013
  • APlazek rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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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