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In the Orchard, the Swallows Paperback – January 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hobbs’ novel is narrated by a nameless man whose release from many years in a Pakistani prison gives him time to reflect on his wasted years. The cause of his imprisonment is revealed through writings in his journal to his long-lost love, the daughter of a wealthy local man. After finding the two youngsters asleep in a pomegranate orchard, the girl’s father beats the boy and has him sent away to prison. He spends the next 15 years thinking of his lost love and watching the changes in modern-day Pakistan from inside a prison cell. After his release, the man is discovered, half-dead, by a poet and his daughter, who offer him shelter and respite after his long imprisonment. Hobbs’ prose is spare, clean, and lyrical, giving In the Orchard, the Swallows a timeless feeling; however, the markers of the Afghan war and the changes in the landscape remind the reader that this story is very contemporary. --Heather Paulson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Peter Hobbs grew up in Cornwall and Yorkshire, and lives in London. His debut novel, The Short Day Dying, was published by Faber in 2005. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and won a Betty Trask Prize. It was also shortlisted for the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. A collection of stories, I Could Ride All Day In My Cool Blue Train, was published in 2006.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571279279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571279272
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,183,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Tejuja on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
In the Orchard, the Swallows is a subtle poem to beauty lost, innocence ruined and sometimes what it takes to find your place back in the world. When I received a copy of this book, I was intrigued by the plot and immediately started reading it. When I read books related to a particular territory that is no longer accessible to the general population or is not what it used to be, a cord is struck within me and then it becomes very difficult for me to forget what I have read. In the Orchard, the Swallows is one such book.

In the foothills of a mountain range in Northern Pakistan, is a beautiful orchard. Or rather it used to be beautiful. The orchard is now neglected. No one takes care of it as it was once taken care of. Miles away, a young man has been released from prison. It is his story. His body - tortured and beaten tells the story of fifteen years of brutality. His family - now lost and the once love of his life, those are his stories to tell. He lands up at a stranger's house and his story begins - of what once was and what is right now.

Peter Hobbs has created something else with this book. I had never heard of him before reading this book. I did not know who he was but after reading In the Orchard, the Swallows, I want to read more of what he has written or what he will. The beauty of the prose is an experience in itself - the descriptions of the lonely pomegranates hanging in the orchard, now no more there, will make your heartbreak in an instant. The writing could not have been simpler and evocative with the details. The emotions are in place and tug at the reader's vulnerable heart.

In the Orchard, the Swallows is a book that you should not miss out on reading this year. It has all the elements that make a book memorable, without making it pretentious or phony. A read that I will recommend to everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
Shakespeare's Romeo loved Juliet despite the opposition of their families, and his temerity resulted in both their deaths. When only 14, the unnamed narrator of this exquisite novella spends a summer night sitting chastely with a young girl in his father's pomegranate orchard, and he pays for this with fifteen years in prison. For these are the tribal areas in the mountains of Pakistan, and the girl's father is a powerful man. Written after his release, as his broken body slowly recuperates, this short book is a love letter to the girl, Saba, even though he knows he may never see her again.

I have had this title for over a year now on Kindle, but never got around to reading it. It was only when I came across a paper copy in my local library, as handsome as I have come to expect from Europa Editions, that I was impelled to pick it up. And the writing is every bit as beautiful as the exquisite filigree of leaves and branches that adorns the cover. Not merely because of Peter Hobbs' style, which is direct and evocative at the same time, but through the beauty of the Good Samaritan character who finds the narrator lying half-dead in a ditch, and nurses him back to health. This is a poet named Abbas, who lives alone with his young daughter in a house with a carefully-tended enclosed garden, a place that becomes as special to the writer as his father's old orchard, now overgrown:

"On the left-hand side, in one of the thick streams of mortar that affixes the stones of the wall, a script flows, carved in beautiful handwriting. The alphabet is familiar to me, but the words are foreign. It is Persian, Abbas has told me, a line of poetry that reads: 'If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe VINE VOICE on April 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
... the smell faint but so sweet, and it came to my dulled senses as powerfully a any narcotic."

A young man returns to the orchard of his childhood, and, as he reconnects with the colours, the scents, the taste of the fruit, and the view far down into the valley, images from the past return, happy ones of his youth, his first, innocent feelings of love, and sad and painful ones from the long time away from the orchard and village down the hill. Peter Hobbs's novella, In the Orchard, the Swallows, captures the reader from the first sentences with their subtle tone and the beautiful depiction of place and vista. Very quickly we sense that during the intervening years, between childhood and now - fifteen long years - much has happened to the young man, events and encounters that demand all his energy to absorb and process so that he can slowly heal. He is weak, bruised in body and soul, and would have died if he had not been found by the gentle and generous Abbas...

Having been confined for a long time, "I would crane my neck upwards, blinking into the light, looking for the swallows." They symbolize for him the freedom he had lost but his yearning for it had not diminished. "And when I raised my head and saw them flying free, there was a feeling in my heart of something I had not known for a long time. It was joy, and it was the most painful thing I have ever felt, because it reminded me of everything we no longer owned." There is another constant thought that keeps him company and the will to survive the tortures he is subjected to: the vivid image of his beloved, Saba, the girl he felt so innocently in love with at the tender age of 14...
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