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The Lemon Orchard Hardcover – July 2, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 262 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Trust Rice (Little Night, 2012), known for fiction that explores the power of family, to find the humanity in illegal immigration, a topic too often relegated to rhetoric and statistics. The story centers on Julia and Roberto, both of whom have suffered the loss of a daughter. Julia’s was killed in a car accident. Roberto’s little girl went missing as the pair crossed into the U.S. from Mexico—a trek through punishing desert that Rice depicts with visceral, heartbreaking brutality. The pair meet at the Malibu home of Julia’s aunt and uncle, where Julia is housesitting and Roberto oversees the titular orchard. An unlikely friendship forms between the two, a bond born out of shared grief, which eventually grows into a tender romance. Though Rice acknowledges the cultural chasm between her lovers, she also imbues her characters with uncommon kindness and understanding. Initially weighed down with exposition, Rice’s novel picks up steam as Julia takes up the search for Roberto’s daughter. An unexpected plot turn will leave readers begging for a sequel. --Patty Wetli



People (***)

"Rice here takes her signature themes of family and loss into the difficult and enigmatic landscape of illegal immigration to powerful effect . . . . An engaging and texturizing Southern California backdrop also subtly spotlights the struggle of land development and the environment as well as the fairy-tale atmosphere of Hollywood, and the book seamlessly includes details and plot points that both ground and enrich the story through its setting. Lovely and compelling, with quiet yet brave social commentary that enhances the book’s impact."

“Trust Rice (Little Night, 2012), known for fiction that explores the power of family, to find the humanity in illegal immigration, a topic too often relegated to rhetoric and statistics. . . . An unexpected plot turn will leave readers begging for a sequel.”

"Rice’s fans will appreciate the evocative setting and unconventional romance, as well as the harrowing . . . depictions of border crossing and the fascinating parallels drawn between Julia’s research interests (she studies the Irish who arrived in America over a century ago) and modern-day Mexican immigrants."
Publishers Weekly

Praise for LITTLE NIGHT:

“Poetic and stirring…beautifully combines [Rice’s] love of nature and the power of family.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Best-selling author Rice’s 30th book is an outstanding read that both chills and warms the soul . . . highly recommended.”

Library Journal, starred review

“Never rushing her story or revelations, Rice reaches the satisfying conclusion that while wounds run deep, love runs deeper.”


“A classic Rice page-turner.”

Good Housekeeping

“In Little Night, Rice plumbs the depths of the damage that physical and mental abuse cause the recipients and allows us into the heads of those who suffer these situations. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter, the story is filled with happy moments and an undying hope for future happiness.”



“Will strike a chord in every mother, daughter, or sister.”

Marie Claire

“Popular Rice, in her mellifluous style, captures the essence of family and sisterhood as each character deals with love and loss.”


“Rice’s writing effortlessly conveys the way family can bind as well as buoy us, reminding us that when the sea of life gets too choppy, by setting our prows toward the places that made us, we will find a safe harbor. Another winner from one of America’s most beloved authors.”


“Rice enriches familiar themes of family, failure, redemption, and romance with a watercolor-lovely portrait of Martha's Vineyard and sketches of the tug-of-war between sea and sand, rich and poor, development and preservation characteristic of the island.”

Publishers Weekly

“Compelling…a satisfying and worthwhile ride.”

Library Journal


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025275
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book at first but I am so glad that I did. It is a beautifully written story about two broken people finding each other and a way to heal the hurts in their hearts. The book starts off with a heartrending story and keeps the emotional level up through the rest of the book.
Julia is in California at her aunt and uncle's lemon orchard house sitting for them while they are in Ireland. She is still mourning the loss of her daughter in a car accident five years before and living in body but not spirit. Her marriage was troubled at the time of the accident and the death of her husband in the same accident left Julia with a mix of grief and guilt. While at the orchard she meets Roberto, a migrant worker from Mexico who is in charge of the orchard's workings. In Roberto she sees a kindred soul who has also had loss in his life. In an odd coincidence, his daughter was lost five years before at the same time as Julia's daughter. Eventually the two share their stories and find themselves falling in love. As wonderful as it is for the two to find happiness in each other, it is an incomplete happiness because of their shared sense of loss.
Ms. Rice must have done an incredible amount of research in this book to so accurately portray the journey that Roberto went through coming from Mexico and the terrible thing that happened. When Julia becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of that awful journey, the reader finds themselves immersed in the immigration issue from a point of view that most of us never consider. Interestingly for me, the day I finished this book I watched a TV news magazine do a story that covered one of the type of groups that Julia goes to on her quest.
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Format: Hardcover
'The Lemon Orchard' is a captivating and exceptional novel that deals with love, loss, self discovery, and acceptance. It tells the story of Julia, the main character of the novel, whose life has been torn apart after the death of her husband and daughter. Julia travels to visit relatives in Malibu and to hopefully start fresh. While she's there, Julia will experience healing, growth, and the one thing she never expected - love.

This was the first novel I have read by the author and I was blown away. Her attention to detail, the vivid descriptions, and the intimate characteristics of the characters and the setting captured my heart and attention from the very first page. The story is heartbreaking at the beginning and slowly transforms itself into an uplifting story full of hope and love. Julia is a wonderful main character. She's completely broken after the sudden death of her husband and daughter - she doesn't believe her life will ever be worthwhile again. Once she meets the handsome caretaker of the lemon orchard, Roberto, the two immediately connect due to their shared grief and pain. It's an intense and powerful connection and I found it both intriguing and beautiful to watch their relationship develop. The story is told from varying viewpoints throughout, which made it really interesting to read. We get to experience the story from the stance of several characters and their individual insights and thoughts really gave the story more depth. The writing was phenomenal and the author's immense talent was evident with each page. This is a novel that overcomes labels and genre preferences - it is one that must be experienced and not merely read. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary literature, women's fiction, and those who wish to expand their reading into a new and beautiful experience.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Format: Hardcover
The tale begins with a first person prologue that immediately draws the reader in, and then we fast forward five years later as Julia agrees to house sit her aunt and uncle's home located in the coastal foothills of Malibu. The tale is then told in third person and broken up into different perspectives by chapter. Julia and Roberto share the bulk, but we also get a few others. Together with her dog Bonnie they enjoy the solace of the beautiful home surrounded by lemon orchards. She is drawn to Roberto the handsome overseer and she recognizes a similar pain in his eyes. As the two become friends she shares her grief and he shares the story of his missing daughter. Julia decides to help find her and the tale that unfolds is breathtakingly beautiful, suspenseful, romantic and completely captivating.

Rice created characters that are well rounded and completely realistic. I immediately connect with them and felt their emotions. Julia keeps everything bottled up just below the surface and you can see them clearly in her eyes and brow. Rice portrayed her struggles and grief in a way that felt real and I could almost imagine myself in her shoes. Roberto's story captured my heart, and made me look at illegals from their perspective. Lion is a friend of the family and famous movie star whose love story we become privy to and was one that I enjoyed. He helped give us some outside perspective regarding Julia and Roberto. Jack Leary is a retired Border Patrol Officer and a true man of honor who filled in clues and helped further the suspenseful plot. I admired the man. We meet other characters who help further the plot and give us insight.

The Lemon Orchard flows beautifully as Rice paints both the beautiful coastal community and the characters.
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