Monday, October 20, 2014


Book Review

‘The Orchardist’

6/12/2013

BookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Cathryn Lang

HarperCollins

3/05/12

$15.99

DM Art Center

426 pp.

Are you a fan of John Steinbeck? If so, you and I have probably read everything he ever wrote. I was hungry for more literature of his style. I have finally found it with Amanda Coplin’s debut novel.

Set in the early 20th century, we meet the gentle soul Talmadge, a middle-aged bachelor who has become caretaker of the family orchard in the Pacific Northwest. He has lost both his widowed mother and his beloved sister whose mysterious disappearance scarred his childhood. Talmadge is deeply rooted to the land and his quiet solitary life. Engaging in conversation while selling his fruit in town, he turns to see two adolescent girls stealing fruit from his wagon. They are ill-kept and can best be described as feral creatures. Even more shocking, he sees both are pregnant. Arriving back home, he finds the girls have taken up residence in his back orchard. With the same caution he would take with any wild creature, Talmadge begins to leave prepared food and blankets for them. His involvement with these desperate girls fills the emotional void that has haunted him and brings drama, love and purpose into his previously ordered life.

But, back to the Steinbeck connection, Coplin’s writing achieves the same powerful balance of lyricism with the reality of life’s grittiness. As she captures you in a tranquil description of the indigenous landscape, you are lulled toward a peaceful meditative state. Then suddenly you find yourself facing the evil, ugly side of life. This quality of storytelling is rare, and this 31-year-old writer holds her own among the giants of literature. Ms. Coplin, please write more! CV

Cathryn Lang is a retired literacy leader who is retired and loving life!

Mediacom