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The Orchardist: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 21, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006218850X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062188502
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,067 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Set against the rugged beauty of Washington State at the turn of the twentieth century, Amanda Coplin’s debut novel, The Orchardist, introduces readers to William Talmadge and his lovingly cultivated orchards of apples and apricots. Coplin’s characters are deeply rooted in the mystery of the American West, and she brings them together, like the grafting of Talmadge’s trees, to form a unique family bound not by blood but by the shared experience of tragedy, the land, and ultimately fate.--Seira Wilson

Review

“Many contemporary novelists have revisited the question of what constitutes a family, but few have responded in a voice as resolute and fiercely poetic.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Amanda Coplin’s somber, majestic debut arrives like an urgent missive from another century. You can only be thrilled by a 31-year-old writer with this depth of understanding…the final epiphany equals in stark grandeur similar scenes in Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Pat Barker’s ANOTHER WORLD...” (Washington Post)

“Coplin’s prose is fresh and compelling…While the ending of this striking debut may not make every reader happy, it is, undoubtedly, the right one for both the book and for Talmadge, an unlikely hero who—like the book—is true to life and sweetly honest from beginning to end.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“A stunning debut…THE ORCHARDIST is a poetic book, but its strength doesn’t lie solely in its language. Coplin’s understanding of abuse and the lasting effects of fear and loss on the individual psyche are deeply resonant. As a debut novel, THE ORCHARDIST stands on par with Charles Frazier’s COLD MOUNTAIN.” (The Oregonian (Portland))

“THE ORCHARDIST is engaging and enthralling. The reader wants to turn each page quickly as the story develops, and wants at the same time to dwell on the lyrical moments of sunshine, soil and love.” (Seattle Times)

“There are echoes of John Steinbeck in this beautiful and haunting debut novel set in early-20th -century Washington State...Coplin depicts the frontier landscape and the plainspoken characters who inhabit it with dazzling clarity.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Amanda Coplin has depicted her northwestern landscape with such fidelity that readers will know its every sight, smell, and sound. Within this world are compelling characters and their equally compelling stories. THE ORCHARDIST is an outstanding debut.” (Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of SERENA and THE COVE)

“To read this mysterious, compelling, elemental novel is to immerse yourself in the world of an old folk song, in which the passions and sorrows of plain people rage unseen and then blossom as madly (and quietly) as apricot trees. In THE ORCHARDIST, Amanda Coplin shows us what’s unknowable.” (Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award and NBCC Award Finalist for Fiction, AMERICAN SALVAGE)

“THE ORCHARDIST is a stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels. Coplin displays a dazzling sense of craftsmanship, and a talent for creating characters vivid and true.” (Jane Ciabattari, NPR)

“A breathtaking work from a genuinely accomplished writer…Coplin’s lyrical style and forceful storytelling provide many unexpected twists before the poignant conclusion.” (Library Journal)

“Eloquent, moving…an immensely affecting first novel...Coplin refuses to sentimentalize. Instead, she demonstrates that courage and compassion can transform unremarkable lives and redeem damaged souls.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Coplin’s mesmerizing debut stands out with its depictions of uniquely Western personalities and a stark, gorgeously realized landscape that will settle deeply into readers’ bones.” (Booklist)

“Beautifully written, so alive to the magnificence of the land and the intricate mysteries of human nature, that it inspires awe rather than depression.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Nearly everybody in the book compels your admiration, either for their courage or for the heavy work they do, all the time and without complaint, even when wicked men are hunting them. Transfixing. I love this book straight through.” (Salvatore Scibona, author of THE END, National Book Award Finalist)

“When you pick up THE ORCHARDIST, you will be lured at first by the lushness of the language. But soon enough the characters will take hold of you and you’ll read on hungrily, as if under a spell. It’s hard to believe that this is Amanda Coplin’s first novel.” (Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED)

“Patiently beautiful, THE ORCHARDIST builds its characters and its situations so carefully that the story becomes as real to us as this morning’s news. I am in awe of Amanda Coplin’s book, which does not feel like a first novel but a life’s work.” (Charles Baxter, author THE FEAST OF LOVE, National Book Award Finalist)

“A rare find—this debut novel that reads with masterful authority. Stately and passionate—a stunning powerhouse. THE ORCHARDIST, like Marilynne Robinson’s GILEAD, drills into history, portraying an apparently modest American way of life but finally presenting us with a great American elegy.” (Patricia Hampl, author of A ROMANTIC EDUCATION)

“This is a novel to burrow into, to be submerged in a world that is both lovely and hard. It’s a world that becomes so real that one only leaves by being forced out by the closing of the covers that enfold it.” (Denver Post)

“Coplin’s grave, graceful prose gives dignity to lives that otherwise might be too sad to contemplate. Her story, which turns in unpredictable ways, is both troubling and touching.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“A superb work from an abundantly gifted young writer” (Dallas Morning News)

“In the end, THE ORCHARDIST shares much in common with the fruits its protagonist nurtures: The succulent flesh of the novel will intoxicate readers early on, but delving deeper reveals a hard core that is vital, bittersweet and ultimately timeless.” (BookPage, Top Fiction Pick)

“This is an extraordinarily ambitious and authoritative debut.” (Holloway McCandless, Shelf Awareness)

“Coplin’s consistent and finely-tuned rendering of a very different sensibility may help readers to comprehend a time when expedience did not rule…This patience is revealed in a narrative that is at once lyrical and unsentimental. This is the most extraordinary fruit of a noteworthy debut novel.” (Bellingham Herald)

“The exquisitely described landscapes in this tale astonish, but so do the emotional lives of its characters…a wise and great American novel.” (The Oprah Blog, Book of the Week September 17th)

“[A] beautiful, powerful novel…THE ORCHARDIST has the sweep and scope of a big historical novel…yet Coplin is exquisitely attuned to small, interior revolutions as well. Its language as rooted and plain as the apple trees Talmadge nurtures, this is a gorgeous first book.” (Boston Globe)

“...the best first novel of 2012...the book brings to mind just how much the effect of reading about the land, the setting, with its lyric pulse, plays a role in the success of a forward moving narrative.” (Chicago Tribune)

More About the Author

Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington, and raised amid her grandfather's orchards. She received her BA from the University of Oregon, and MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and the Ledig House International Writers Residency Program in Ghent, New York, she lives in Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Beautifully written with interesting story line and characters.
Pat
A really interesting read that is very enjoyable with lots of twists and turns It really kept me turning the pages.
yram
Did not understand why quotation marks were not used when characters were speaking.
Dotta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

271 of 285 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Orchardist: A Novel is the remarkable achievement of debut novelist Amanda Coplin...storytelling at the hand of a young writer so masterful, to read it is to be transported to another time, another place - to the world of an alternative family of characters who will wrench your heart, touch your soul, and leave you feeling richer for having gained access to their interior landscapes.

There is a relentless stoicism about this novel of intense imagery and descriptive exactitude. With luminous, clear prose all the sensations of the world of the orchardist are evoked, such as the smell of apricot blossoms or rich garden soil; the taste of green apples or wild honeysuckle; the sounds of the wind or bird song in the fruit trees; the shimmering play of light in the plum orchard at sunset or moon shine and countless stars on a clear night; the coldness of the creek water on a hot, humid afternoon or the warmth under a quilt in the bitter cold; the satisfaction of solitude or the emptiness of loss.

But who is the orchardist? I would say there are really two: most definitely the makeshift patriarch of his foster family, William Talmadge, but also one of his adoptees, the girl child who by his own hands was delivered into this world in his very orchard, the beautiful Angelene Michaelson.

Their story takes place in the Pacific Northwest, primarily on a piece of remote and wild land near Wenatchee, Washington, owned and homesteaded by the solitary Talmadge. The story truly speaks of one being wedded to the land as well as of the vicissitudes of the frontier life that mold and shape character.
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199 of 216 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is truly an extraordinary book; nothing in my previous reading experience, copious and varied as it has been during over six decades of being an unregenerate bookworm, comes close to Amanda Coplin's epic work. I call it epic, because in many ways, it seemed at times to read like a major narrative poem, although certainly not set in verse format.

Having said this much, I find myself truly at a loss as to how to continue. One of the things which I found most difficult was to genuinely relate to the characters and situations, which are extremely far from my own experience. Nevertheless, I found myself completely wrapped up in the concerns of their lives, and caring very deeply about how things worked out.

Another thing that fascinated me was the extremely unusual format - for instance, the complete lack of quotation marks, and the juxtaposition of brief partial page and much longer sections. The small vignettes were brilliantly crafted, and moved the narrative along in an amazing way. Despite the book's length and the fact that the dramatic episodes were interspersed with long quiet stretches of everyday life, I can honestly say that while I sometimes tend to lose interest in novels that are not cliff-hangers in every chapter, it did not happen here.

For the romance novel addict demanding explicit sex scenes, the person who wants vivid descriptions of cruelty and gore, or one who demands an improbable ending where the good guys "win" and the bad guys get a gruesome comeuppance, this book is not recommended. However, if you are looking for a sensitive and vividly presented insight into a time and place that seems to be fully realized, and people who are real even though you may never have met anyone like them, this is a truly fascinating excursion into an intriguing world.
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295 of 327 people found the following review helpful By M. Feldman VINE VOICE on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Orchardist, set at the turn of the twentieth century in the orchard country of Washington State, is part historical fiction, part elegy for a kind of lost Arcadia. Talmadge, a reclusive and sorrowful man who tends apricots, apples, and plums in the unspoiled reaches of the Wenatchee Valley becomes a foster father to two adolescent girls, Jane and Della Michaelson, escapees from a brothel owner who has enslaved them. In time, he becomes a foster father to Angelene, Jane's child. However, it is with the cold and emotionally damaged Della that his life becomes inextricably bound, even though she lives with him for only a few years.

At times, the novel evokes the history of the region: the coming of the railroad, the spread of large-scale orchards and distribution centers, the timber camps, the diminishing presence of the native tribes. (Oddly, there is almost no mention of Washington's tumultuous labor history in this period, although Della works in both a cannery and a timber camp.) However, the intent of the novel does not seem to be toward true historical fiction; instead, there is just enough period detail to sketch in the era.

The larger intent of The Orchardist is a poetic impulse; it seeks to convey the natural beauties of the region, as well as the powerful impression of place on human character and conduct. In this, Coplin is not entirely successful. This is a long novel (425 pages) and there are many many paragraphs devoted to descriptions of the landscape. These reverential passages, as well as the use of lengthy interior monologues, slow the novel down after a time.
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