Becky’s Eighty-Fourth Book Review: “The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin

I finished reading “The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin at the end of last week. Why am I only just now getting around to writing the review? Well, a couple of reasons, but mainly because I had a deadline at job #2 that had to by top priority. That led to me staying up late several nights in a row, so I spent my weekend recovering and relaxing. That being said, even if I didn’t have a lot of my plate, I’m really not sure that I would have written my review right away. This is why.

“The Orchardist” is a book that I kind of stumbled upon when I was looking for things to put on my Christmas/birthday wish list. I read the little blurb about the book and thought it might be interesting. That was quite an underestimation. “The Orchardist” is one of those rare books that comes along and devours you. The language, the topics, the symbolism, the characters, everything in this book was extremely well done. And it was a heavy read. One of those books that when you put it down, you just sit there for a bit trying to figure out why everything just happened as it did. While I spent my weekend relaxing, I also spent quite a bit of it reflecting on the book.

“The Orchardist” is about a man named Talmadge who tends a huge orchard in the Pacific Northwest around the turn of the 20th century. Talmadge came to the land with his mother and sister and inherited it when his mother died and his sister disappeared. Talmadge lived a very quiet life in the orchard with no family and few friends to speak of. A band of men would come through and help with the harvesting and some of these men were his friends, especially Clee whom didn’t speak. Talmadge and Clee enjoyed a quiet but solid friendship. Another friend of Talmadge’s is a woman named Caroline Middey. While Caroline speaks, she is not a trivial person and I think that part of what attracts Talmadge to Caroline for a friendship is this. When she speaks, she speaks the truth and she doesn’t feel the need to fill the air with silly small talk. These are the kinds of people that Talmadge feels most at home with. After Amanda Coplin introduces Talmadge, his family, his friends, his orchard, and his general quiet way of life she brings in two characters who will change everything. Two girls, Jane and Della, both pregnant, find refuge amongst the trees in Talmadge’s orchard. The girls disrupt his quiet life among the trees and change everything.

While I would love to discuss more deeply all the different things that happen in the book, I don’t want to give anything away. I personally think that most back cover book blurbs give away too much. What I will say is that “The Orchardist” is not light reading. This is not a book to pick up if you have just a few minutes to read. This book will draw you in with the enchanting language that Amanda Coplin uses to describe for each sense Talmadge’s world. Once you’re hooked, that is when the book gets really good. I would highly recommend this book, it is an excellent read. Other authors that I believe to be similar to her would be Tracy Chevalier and Margaret Atwood.   

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