I started reading The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin before we left for our Jamaican honeymoon. I post-poned my reading while we were on vacation because I didn’t want sand to get in my Kindle and brought along a regular old paperback with me to the sandy beaches. When we returned, however, I dove back into this long adventure of a man’s life lived in the Pacific Northwest.
The story starts with a look at William Talmadge and his sister as they settle on a sprawling apple orchard in Washington state. Wanting to work the land and make a living as an orchardist, Talmadge starts to feel comfortable and at home in the orchard and finds a wonderful way of life amongst the beauty of the territory. After his sister mysteriously disappears (did she run away?), Talmadge dives into a deep depression and trudges on into a lonely life working the land day after day.
Fast forward a few decades and we find a middle-aged Talmadge making a run into town to sell some of his apples to the townsfolk when he runs into a pair of teenage sisters on the run from a brutal past. This is where the story picks up and we find that the girls, Della and Jane settle into a life at the orchard and help Talmadge work the land, while also providing companionship (in a sisterly/daughterly form). Both girls are pregnant, and when their past catches up to them at the orchard, Talmadge must take a stand to ensure that no more harm comes to the girls.
This is a looooong novel, but a beautiful one. If you love when a novel fully paints a landscape for you, or when characters are fully developed, you’ll enjoy this book. There’s enough twists and turns throughout to keep the story going, and whenever Talmadge or the girls travel, you feel like you’re right there in the seat with them. Great book – especially for a rainy day.