‘The prose wraps itself around the reader’ – The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

toacThis is a story set in the American Pacific Northwest at the base of the Casade Mountains during the 19th century. Civilisation and the country are slowly being tamed by men but it takes time and there are lots of causalities along the way.

Talmadge is a solitary man, dragged to this cabin and life as a boy by his mother who searched for a new life, away from the city, with him and his sister in tow. From the cabin he grows hundreds of acres of fruit trees on the edge of a valley and finds his solace in working with them throughout the seasons now both his mother and sister are gone.

After more than three decades of this lonely life, Talmadge’s way of living changes when two dirty, barefoot, pregnant teenage girls steal apples from his stall. These traumatised girls turn up at his place of calm and all their lives change completely.

Gradually, the girls learn to trust Talmadge as he leaves food outside for them. That’s when their past catches up with them. The outcome is brutal, but a makeshift family forms as a result. Coplin looks at isolated communities, what drives people to do what they do, and what people want at the end of the day.

I was hesitant on reading the first few pages as Coplin uses incredibly poetic language reminiscent of the great American novelists; it is also set in a similar timeframe. My wariness was unfounded though as the prose wraps itself around the reader, bringing you into this gentle world that is gradually torn apart by loss, violence, want and longing.

Any Cop?: This is a great start to what will hopefully be a long career.

Claire Snook


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