Monday, May 20, 2013
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
A book club friend donated this book to the library, and then another told me she could not put it down, so I thought I would finally take the time to give it a read. It is the kind of book you can sit and think about long after you're through.
It is the story of William Talmadge who was born to grow the many kinds of fruit trees in his orchard. His mother and father start from nothing, and pass on this reassuring, cultivating work to Talmadge. Talmadge is a common man who struggles with the loss of his sister, who mysteriously disappears into the forest one day. It is this event that shapes him, just as he shapes the trees to bear better, hardier fruit. Then one day he is faced with another struggle when two young girls, both pregnant and running away from he knows not what, enter the orchard to steal his fruit. Instead of chasing them away, he chooses the hard decision of cultivating them also. Their relationship to each other fascinates him, and he can't keep himself from helping them. His life in the orchard makes a shift then, from being all about him, his grief, and the land he is on. It shifts to become about love and the true sacrifice that love takes.
Perhaps it is the beautifully detailed writing, the characters that feel like real people when you're done, or the unique description of life cultivating a fruit orchard. Perhaps it is my own dear connection to my own sisters, or my father's life-long interest in fruit trees and grafting. There are a lot of reasons for me to love this book, and I hope you'll find your own.