The Orchardist

The Orchardist.
A novel by Amanda Coplin
Harper Perennial 2012
Available in Paperback and Kindle editions
426 pages
Best Book of the Year, Indie Next Pick, Barnes and Noble Discover Award Winner

From the first line “His face was as pitted as the moon.”, Amanda Coplin the author of The Orchardist strongly engages the reader with her characters and with the place and time she writes about, the rural Pacific Northwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Reading her book I was immersed in that time and place. I felt I had lived there, even though I have never been there. Her descriptive powers are astonishing. In the interview printed in my edition of the book, she names Toni Morrison and Marilynne Robinson as two writers whose work she admires. Her writing is as powerful as each of those well-known and admired writers. Her themes and the passion that drives her writing are equal to theirs. If you are about to be exiled to a deserted island, you would do well to take a book written by each of the three of them along.

What is a family? Who has family? Who finds family? She poses these questions when she tells us the story of two young teen girls who have fled the place they lived and the horrific abuse they endured. They enter the orchard of the man with the pitted face. It is an idyllic place. But given what these two have endured, their stories are lived through challenge and surprise, and are far from idyllic.

This young writer’s fiction brings us characters we can admire, particularly in the adults that help these girls. It is not an easy task. The remarkable characters Coplin creates almost always surprise the reader in some way, at least they surprised me. The happenings in this tale wound tightly around me, left me gasping for understanding, and taught me how hard humans can struggle for empathy. The human heart can be strange, its resiliency limited, and yet, mercy and grace abound in this story.

Don’t miss this unforgettable read.

3 thoughts on “THE ORCHARDIST

  1. Post author

    I am so glad to you liked Hannah Coulter. It has been quite a few years since I read it. Wendell Berry is an author I am very familiar with. I believe this is Amanda Coplin’s first book and the first of her writing I have read. They both have well-developed rural settings. More action in Amanda Coplin’s book and though it is set early in the twentieth century, it deals with themes on readers minds now. It will be fun to talk about Hannah when we see each other.

  2. Karen Kozian

    Paulette, I just finished Hannah Coulter another book you had recommended. I enjoyed it as much as my former favorite, The Book Thief. Wendell Berry’s descriptive powers are impressive. How would you compare The Orchardist with Hannah Coulter?


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