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The Rock Orchard: A Novel Hardcover – February 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The Belles have been in Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, since before the Civil War, and the Belle women have been strong, independent, and lusty. But in spite of their shocking behavior, the citizens of Leaper's Fork don't hesitate to come to them with their problems or have Belles lay hands on their newborn babies, for the Belles seem to have the sight as well. Charlotte likes to smoke cigars and make money. Not a fan of children, she nevertheless begrudgingly takes in her sister's child, Angela. Charlotte's child-raising technique is "free range," which ultimately leads to a young Angela begetting her own illegitimate daughter, Dixie. No one knows who the father is, but it doesn't slow down Angela and her sultry ways. The Belles' influence is felt throughout Leaper's Fork, and just as inviting are the townspeople in Wall's wonderfully endearing story of love, life, and change, and Wall's extraordinary and original style is the icing on one very enticing cake. Maria Hatton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Jodi Picoult"New York Times" bestselling author of "My Sister's Keeper"The most unlikely things grow in "The Rock Orchard" -- prosperity, love, faith and friendship...and some deep Southern characters whose turns of phrase and approach to life will have you laughing out loud. Paula Wall's created a crystalline world so full of one-of-a-kind can't help but enjoy your visit.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; 1st Atria Books Hardcover Ed edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743496205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743496209
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,047,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Crow on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Novels can touch your heart and expand your world. But first, even the most serious art has to keep you paying attention. Right away, the rhythm of Paula Wall's style got me patting my linguistic foot, and from time to time, I found myself doing something books only occasionally make me do. My wife came to see why I was laughing. Then I read Rock Garden to her. Several times, we had to let our tickle boxes run down before we could go on. At first I thought, if you can't write serious literature, at least keep 'em laughing. The author used to be a highly successful humor columnist, after all. She started her career in our hometown. We were happy to see her novel get published. The sheer fun of it quickly reassured us she's plenty good enough to pull it off-to at least entertain.

That was early in the book. The chapters are short. I wasn't expecting serious literature. I wasn't paying close enough attention. And Ms. Walls is a tad sneaky. I'm slow, but after 20 pages, what had seemed a loosely connected string of delightful anecdotes started to gel. The story, I realized, was going somewhere, somewhere important enough to make you care and keep you looking forward. Then came some juicy surprises. And the characters, who had grabbed me from the git-go, continued to unfold right up to the end-authentic and multifarious.

I used to think my English professors talked too much about theme. I won't be surprised when professors start teaching Rock Garden. It's an eminently comprehensible example of a theme-prominent novel. That hits you on Page 1, well before the plot takes shape. Deep down, I think most guys acknowledge to ourselves that women get a lap ahead of us around the fifth grade.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Haley Burke on February 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have to be honest with you - I'm not sure why I liked this book, but I did. From beginning to end. THE ROCK ORCHARD tells the stories of the people in Leaper's Fork, Tennessee focusing on the Belle family of women. What I liked best about the story was how it became a series of connected short stories, like pieces of material all pulled together into one beautiful quilt.

Even though this is a little simple, a little hokey, a little quirky, it is definitely worth reading. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit to Leaper's Fork.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cappy Hall Rearick on February 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading Paula Wall's debut novel, The Rock Orchard, is akin to sitting down to a Sunday dinner with Southern fried chicken, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and `nana puddin' for dessert.

The Belle women, Musette, Charlotte, Angela and Dixie Cup, of Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, are at first glimpse, an odd family of enormously rich, freethinking and determined females. Stunningly beautiful, they tend to be the frosting on every man's desirability cake.

The ultra-strong Charlotte and Angela Belle are both surrounded throughout by an array of memorable characters that provide both texture and flavor and move the plot along at atypically Southern speed.

The Yankee doctor, Adam Montgomery, has chosen medicine for all the wrong reasons and sets up practice in Leaper's Fork hoping to be a big fish in a little pond. The beautiful Lydia is his vacuous trophy wife.

Widowed Baptist preacher, Thomas Jones, comes to town to replace the hellfire and brimstone spouting Reverend Lyle. Disillusioned with life, apathetic Thomas walks around like a corpse until he sets eyes on Charlotte Belle. Before he can recite the Ten Commandments, his charisma peaks along with his libido and the church pews begin to fill.

Boone Dickson, the handsome young Jack-of-all-trades, is dirt poor and hails from the wrong side of town. He is blessed (or cursed) with an enigmatic animal magnetism that ultimately lands him a welcomed spot inside the good doctor's mansion, if only in the closet.

Throughout the book, Wall deftly strings together complete opposites. The rich and poor, black and white, good and evil, even holier-than-thou and cynical non-believers. Wondering how these characters can possibly blend, will keep you turning pages.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D.C. on January 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was in a store when I found this book, I have absolutely no idea what made me pick it up and take a look at it. But I read the first page and I was hooked. After purchasing 8 books (some by my favorite authors) this is the first one I read, and once started, I couldn't put it down.

My husband ended up cooking for himself, because I was totally engrossed. I called my girlfriend to see if she had read this and she hadn't. She asked what it was about, and I drew a complete blank.

It is very hard to explain what this is about other than the town and characters of Leapers Fork Tennessee.

You fall in love and are riveted by what happens, and you usually laugh while doing it. There is a lot of ironic humor, and the people are so perfectly flawed, you can relate to them.

I know this review is not really telling you anything about the book, but you just need to pick it up and buy it. You will want to pass it on to all of your friends.

There are many great lines in this book, and a justice that makes your soul feel good. The back of the book makes it sound like it is about Charlotte, and to some extent it is, but it is also about Lydia, Mrs. Meeks, Dixie, Boone, the Sheriff. There is a piece of it for everyone. Trust me, you will love this book!!
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