Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Having just taken a job at a winery overlooking an orchard, I clicked on a recent advertisement for a new novel called The Orchardist and was surprised to find the high praise of my former student/author Salvatore Scibona
“Nearly everybody in the book compels your admiration, either for their courage or for the heavy
work they do, all the time and without complaint, even when wicked men are hunting them.
Transfixing. I love this book straight through.” (Salvatore Scibona, author of THE END, National
Book Award Finalist )
The cover art actually presages the panoramic scope of the book. Based on family history from the author's ancestors in the fruit-rich Wenatchee Valley of Washington state, the novel reads like an old-fashioned story, heavy with description. The comparisons reviewers have made to Steinbeck seem fitting. William Talmadge quietly oversees his apple and apricot orchard, always scanning the landscape out of longing for the return of his sister. One day two pregnant young women appear. Their lives intertwine with his, setting off a plot of treachery, anguish and, ultimately, reconciliation. I loved the fluidity of this - rather long - novel so much, I didn't want it to end. I welcome Amanda Coplin as a fresh young voice in fiction.