“The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin


A selection for what I call my “women’s” book group, The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin seemed like it wanted me to really, really love it. I just couldn’t.

It’s written in lush, slow prose, about an aging man, Talmadge, who owns orchards in Washington state. When two wild, pregnant teen girls wander onto his property, he tries to take them in, and the novel unfolds from there with violence and a great deal of tragedy, but some joy.

As I read it, I was strongly reminded of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong, as well as Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. Both also had the lovely slow pace, unconventional families and a deep sense of place.

In the end, though, The Orchardist didn’t touch me on a deeper level as those other books did, though it’s an extremely promising first novel from a young writer.

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