Monday, September 8, 2014

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Family doesn't have to be inherited - sometimes you piece and patch together a family of people you love and who love you. In this emotional literary novel, when two bedraggled and practically feral preteen girls - both pregnant - appear in the orchard of a solitary farming man, he chooses to act from his heart and help the girls.

Talmadge is an isolated farmer, tending his fruit trees alone in the mountains of Washington. His family is gone, and his few friends are enough. But the girls need help, and he can help them; it's just that simple. And while their relationship isn't ordinary, they form a family of sorts over time.

There's a lot unsaid in this book - every character is a still pool of dark water. I'd expected a straight-forward historical novel (this book was chosen by our book discussion group at the library), but I was pleasantly surprised almost from the start by the complex characters and drama that takes place.

I enjoyed the casual unspooling of time across the story - weeks pass slowly as the story unfolds, then it accelerates and several years pass in a heartbeat. A large part of the book takes place in a single year, then a decade zooms past. It's unsettling, but also feels right for the story.

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