Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Staff Review by Meg Cheman:
At turns tragic and gentle, epic and humble, The Orchardist gets under your skin and stays with you long after you've turned the last page. In the late 19th century, William Talmadge grows and lovingly tends his orchards of apples and apricots. Talmadge has settled into a single life, with his long-time friends, horse catcher Clee of the Nez Perce and herbalist/midwife Caroline Middey. His solitary life is disrupted when two ragged, wild, and pregnant girls steal his apples at market, then follow him home, eventually becoming inhabitants of his orchard. Just as the girls start to trust Talmadge, men searching for the runaways bring violence and tragedy to the orchard, forever changing all their lives.
The story is told in a quiet, almost hypnotic narrative, powerful in its understated simplicity. Coplin's writing is emotional, yet not at all sentimental. The characters evolve as the story unfolds, nuanced and fully fleshed, and are developed in the subtlety of things said and unsaid. She evokes a strong sense of time and place, using the orchard as the center of this nontraditional family. Coplin's debut novel is highly recommended and this reviewer looks forward to her next offering.
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