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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571279279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571279272
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,308,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


“Hobbs writes with clarity and purity” — The Daily Telegraph
“Beautifully crafted, tender and very, very moving” — The Daily Mail
“The story is equally a testament to the endurance of love, loyalty and hope.” — The Independent
“This is simple yet breathtaking storytelling.” — The Globe and Mail
“A beautiful, often painful, journey of a young man's doomed yearning for love ... I immensely enjoyed this fine novel.” – The Guardian
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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6 of 6 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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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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JS on December 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the third of Hobbs' books that I have read. A gifted wordsmith, he manages to take the reader into the mind of a young man whose inner life, filled with meaningful memories of tenderness, kept him sane throughout many ordeals, some more brutal and cruel than others. Facing considerable losses, the sweet light of these memories is contrasted with pain and suffering. Most of the story develops as the young man is rescued by a good samaritan. Although it has the quality of a great myth in its timelessness, references to recent and current historical events provide the reader with a glimpse of what could be the perspective of many young men living in the area from which the Arabian Nights were born. Of action, there is little; but of depth of thought and emotion,there is plenty. Sentimentality is absent. The sensory experience is exquisite. The many chapters are short like those small but oh so tasteful pomegranate seeds that are found in the orchard which the wire-tailed swallows visit at dawn. The reader is gently engaged throughout this magnificent story which the young man writes to his lost love. And when the story reaches the end, despite having shared the young man's many torments and worries, the reader is not suprisingly, but expertly, left by Hobbs feeling calm, serene, and satisfied.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did enjoy reading this book. Some of it was really difficult to read when he talked of his imprisonment, but I know it was necessary to tell the story entirely. But most of the book was charming and very pleasant reading. He didn't have unreasonable expectations of the girl to whom the story is addressed. And he was able to close it on a satisfying note.

The Gardener
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