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The Orchardist

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  19,824 ratings  ·  3,575 reviews
Set in the untamed American West, a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the land.

You belong to the earth, and the earth is hard.

At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, a solitary
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Hardcover, 426 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Harper (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
UPDATED - 3/7/13 - see link at bottom

Let’s state it up front. This is a GREAT book. Not a pretty good book with some nice qualities, but a powerful, beautiful, thoughtful and incredibly moving work of art that will be read for generations. The Orchardist is even more incredible for being a first novel, the best first I have read since Edgar Sawtelle. Yes, that good.
Talmadge had lived forty years in the orchard without any exceptional event happening to him, barring inclement weather or some hort
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Julie
It is a rare read that cuts through the surface noise of daily life and becomes the one sound you can hear clearly, like a church bell on a still winter morning. It commands your full attention and you willingly shut out the world and surrender to the power of its images, characters and the force of its story. Amanda Coplin’s debut novel, The Orchardist, is one such book.

Set in the early years of the 20th century in the golden valleys and granite hills of Chelan county in north-central Washingt
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Tom
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin marks the debut of a talented new American writer. But midway through the novel I paused and asked myself, why am I reading this? Is it believable?

Coplin’s spare, post-modern prose was controlled and the voice unique. The setting—the dry eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains at the turn of the 20th Century—was also unique and evocatively rendered. The characters possessed a timeless, mythic quality as if carved from stone, and the story itself, as one book blur
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Lizzy
This was a slow, luxurious read for the first 200 pages. I was steeped in the landscape, the time period, the characters and enough of a plot to keep me turning the pages. The writing was deceptively simple at times, almost staccato in rhythm, yet highly evocative and well-matched to the rural setting of the book. I was captivated by Coplin's beautiful prose and her instinct to reveal just enough about her characters but never too much inner detail, as if seen through a veil.

However mid-way the
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Michael
May 02, 2013 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michael by: Julie christine
I loved the balance between reflection and emotional engagement in this tale. The sense of connection between working the land and creation of a bridge to save the human heart. It makes me hold a fancy word on my tongue—‘luminous’. It appears apt for how the universal shines through the particular in the book’s clear prose, how the natural world is cast in a clear light, banishing the dark shadows of life to a compost of the soil.

This is the story of Talmadge, an unmarried orchardist in the Went
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Amanda Coplin sets THE ORCHARDIST in central Washington, the region in which she spent her youth. Her knowledge of its history, geography, architecture, and especially its people, draws us into the beauty and ugliness of life in the Wenatchee area around the turn of the 20th century.

William Talmadge is a man of quiet tenacity. He has lived alone for forty years, nurturing his fruit trees and living by the simple rhythm of the seasons. His orchards are his anchor, and he needs little else but th
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Tania
We do not belong to ourselves alone


This is a beautiful, evocative novel. The writing is slow and eloquent. The orchardist is in many ways reminiscent of three of my best-loved books -
Blessings, The Poisonwood Bible and The Snow Child. In all of these stories there's a marked focus on the land. So much so that the landscape almost becomes one of the characters.

The author is also more concerned with the emotions behind an action or choice, than the action or choice itself. Her descriptions of fee
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Nancy
I have been thinking a lot about this book since I finished it, waiting to write about it. It is quite extraordinary. The beginning in particular for me was totally mesmerizing. I could have stayed forever suspended in time in the orchard, sleeping on my side in the long grass in the sun among the apple and apricot trees. I don't think I've read in a long time a writer who captures, and holds, time like this. The whole book is drenched in it, but particularly the beginning of the book, when we a ...more
Annie
I won this book from goodreads first reads.

Why do people read books? I don't know about you but I read to either escape to someplace or time different from my own or to learn something. For most people I know this why they read.
Then why do I keep coming across books with such disturbing themes? Why on earth did the author think anyone would enjoy reading about fictional child prostitution? A man drugged out on opium offered a very young child to an old man. Completely disturbing. I don't even w
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Judi/Judith Riddle
Just one more chapter, I would promise myself and then I would read two, three or four, making myself late for some other activity or sleep. I couldn't stop reading this emotionally intense, gripping tale of William Talmadge who loved and tended his orchards with devotion in early 1900s rural Oregon. One day, two ferrel young and pregnant girls appeared to be hiding on his vast property and that is the day his life changed forever. Without hesitation or question he took on the role of their prot ...more
Doug Bradshaw
George R.R. Martin — 'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.'

I don't know if any of you have seen the German movie, Sonata for a Good Man, but The Orchardist is the story of one such person. A very very good man. Prepare to live in another life and reality that is set back in time about 150 years where life is harsh and survival is a day to day thing. Get ready for hardship, loss of family, sacrifice, hard work, harsh weather along wit
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Dem
The Orchardist is beautifully written and stunning debut novel by Amanda Coplin. I was really impressed with this book. It isn’t a fast paced novel by any means; it is more character-based than plot-based but the characters and sense of place are so exquisitely written that I did not want this book to finish.

Set at the turn of the century in a rural stretch of Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist by the name of William Talmadge tends to apples and apricots. A gentle man who spends his time
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Mmars
Just finished this and I am drained. Drained! So glad I wasn't reading the last 100 or so pages on public transportation. I sobbed. Literally. I was sobbing. Really haven't been hit this hard by a book in a long, long, time.

First off, the story wasn't flawless. There were a few elements of the story that seemed to stretch possibility. But I am more than willing to overlook them given the sheer awe I feel over this being a first novel.

Here's why.

- Point of view. Masterful. Coplin presents a sce
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Judy
Sep 21, 2012 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dem, Sue, Kimberly, Pragya and any other friend considering reading this
Recommended to Judy by: Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"
The Orchardist tells the story of lonely Talmadge, the orchardist, a man deep-seeded in grief from the loss of his beloved sister who mysteriously disappeared. Talmadge's life is turned upside down when two runaway sisters begin stealing apples and food from him. Although I never fully got accustomed to the writing style, the story was compelling and I felt the author portrayed atmosphere exceptionally well in spite of the aloofness of the storytelling.

Here is an example of the writing chosen no
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switterbug (Betsey)
In this understated and emotionally raw novel of a family born as much from choice as from blood, debut novelist Amanda Coplin explores themes of love, loyalty, courage, compassion, revenge, and honor, as well as the lifelong, traumatic impact of both childhood abuse and loss.

The novel opens with orchardist William Talmadge, a tall, broad-shouldered and solitary man who is composed of the most steadfast moral fiber and potent vulnerability of almost any protagonist that I can recall in recent (n
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Connie
Oh my, what a heartbreaking and haunting first novel Amanda Coplin has given to the reader. I can not think where to start with what I loved about this book. The lyrical prose, which catches the language of an earlier and in some ways simpler time. So many thoughts and feelings come to these characters, but so much is left unsaid....as that was the way of these relationships. The breathtaking, vivid descriptions of the peaceful orchard, surrounded by a much wilder world. A world in which these ...more
Cynthia
“The Orchardist” is a difficult book to describe. As I read I found myself continually wondering if it was really as good as it seemed to be until finally, about half way through, I admitted that, yes, it really was excellent. The story is languid though not meandering; in fact it goes right to the crux of things. William Talmadge , the orchardist lost his mother as a teenager which left just he and his younger sister to get by on their Washington farm in the middle of the 19th century. It was a ...more
Kayjaybee123
My first good reads review!

Okay, so even though I rated this book with 3 stars, i really feel that it is a moving, beautifully written story. The author did a a great job with the characters and their interactions with each other. It was a touching story at some points but at others I felt underwhelmed. The first third of the book swept me away and after that I just kept waiting for the next conflict in the story to happen, for something to happen. I did enjoy the material even though nothing ha
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Kris Irvin
And so we've come to yet another book I am not sure how to review. Okay.

At first, I had a hard time getting into The Orchardist. I have a hard time reading books where dialogue has no quotation marks - it just bugs me. This is probably one of the first books with that "flaw" that I've ever finished. I guess it helps that there is very, very little dialogue in the book. I mean, it goes on for pages and pages without anyone talking to anyone else.

Which is one of my gripes. Slooowwww book.

Howeve
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Gloria
4.5 stars

I really hate authors who manage to pull off a first novel as lyrical and beautiful as this ("hate" as in -- I wish I were them...)

There's a lot going on this novel. Which seems strange, because if you rattle off the plot line, it seems "quiet." And in many ways, it is.
But I think that's what I enjoyed most about it.

Another reviewer complained about the characters not talking to one another enough. To me, they missed the whole point. Dialogue wasn't always necessary. They already knew.
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Connie
Amanda Coplin has written her debut novel in spare, lyrical language. The story is set in the early 20th Century in Washington State where teenagers William Talmadge and his beloved sister tend an orchard after the death of their mother. His sister disappears one day, leaving nothing but her bonnet in the woods. Talmadge is left with a sense of remorse that he was never able to locate her. He has no sense of closure since he does not know if she ran away or was abducted.

The hard-working Talmadge
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Cindy Knoke
This is a beautifully written book, an incandesant lamentation and exultation of the loneliness and deep contentment of solitude. The author tells us, “…sorrow came from these two feelings, the happines of company, the anxiety of interrupted solitude.” Each finely developed character in this stunning book experiences this profound conflict and one senses that the author, through her characters might also. The writers life I imagine is in many ways a solitary one. Amanda Coplin spent eight years ...more
Kat
From the very first page of The Orchardist I knew that I would love this book. The detailed, flowing description of Talmadge sets the scene and writing that continues throughout the story.

Set in the orchard that Talmadge came to live in as a child with his widowed mother and younger sister, The Orchardist is a contraction of itself - dark yet heartening, lyrical yet stark, complicated yet straightforward. Amanda Coplin contructs a story that is simple in plot but epic in execution.

Talmadge is ge
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Lou
The Orchardist is a story featuring a main protagonist, an orchardist, a worker of a wonderful apricot orchard. This is a tale of the country of a modest man who lives by modest standards he happens to come upon two desperate souls, young women and he takes them very slowly under his wing for raising. A new birth an offspring soon learns of the wonders of the orchard and grows to love it, to want to live there. One of the women wants more as time passes she wants to be amongst the men that work ...more
Michael
I really wanted to like the book -- the setting was great, and the characters were interesting. The plot, however, never achieved coherence, breaking down entirely after a point and finishing with one of the most pathetic endings I have ever had the misfortune to read. The prose, while solid, lacked the brilliance necessary to sustain interest as the narrative meandered to its unfortunate (although by the time it arrived, welcome) close. The author has a talented imagination and good descriptive ...more
Jill
Amanda Coplin was born to write and her debut book, The Orchardist, is an achievement.

Set at the turn of the twentieth century, the book initially focuses on a solitary man named Talmadge: a man who nurtures apples, apricots, and plums from the land and mourns the death of his mother and disappearance of his sister who vanished with barely a trace. His life is very predictable until one day, two barefoot, filthy, and visibly pregnant teenage sisters appear.

The description of the runaways – and
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Emilia
I know I've fallen in love with a book when the lush language is delicate in its delivery yet packs a punch. This is the case in Amanda Coplin's debut novel, The Orchardist. Novice and veteran writers alike should be envious of her prose. I was immediately drawn into the story of William Talmadge, an old bachelor who takes in the feral and pregnant teenage sisters, Jane and Della. The sad and horrific living situation they escape is so heartbreaking and may bring the reader to tears but my mind ...more
Lizfig
I stayed up all night last night and am halfway through... don't want it to end!

Update: This is an amazing and epic novel. I just can't believe this is her first! The imagery was so beautiful/powerful, and Talmadge is an amazingly well developed character (among a cast of other phenomenal personalities). Coplin really grabs you by the heart and won't let go.
☮Karen
The Orchardist is William Talmadge, an aging bachelor who one day finds two teenage sisters living on his land, hungry and pregnant. He feeds them and tries to provide shelter, although the girls are afraid of men --for good reason -- and would prefer to live out in the orchard, in amongst the trees. Few words pass between them, and that is something common among all the characters here. Words and feelings were often left unspoken. I found myself trying to tell Talmadge, stop waiting for the rig ...more
Shelli
This is a hard book for me to review. I think it was well written. It had a unique style that was at first hard to get used to, but by the middle of the book it didn't bother me and it worked well in this story. There are no quotation marks or question marks and there are long stretches with no dialogue at all. The setting was descriptively beautiful and you could tell the author was very familiar with it. You could feel the realness of it. I wouldn't have thought I'd be taken in by a setting in ...more
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Bookmarks Subscri...: William Talmadge 1 5 Oct 18, 2014 06:07PM  
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DCRP (Drinking Cl...: May/June 2014 2 10 May 10, 2014 07:14PM  
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A native of Washington State, Amanda Coplin has been a Fellow at The Fine Arts Work Centre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, as well as Ledig House International Writers' Residency Program in Ghent, New York. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
More about Amanda Coplin...
Buzz Books 2012

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“She revered solitude, but only because there was the possibility of breaking it. Of communing at last with another.” 18 likes
“And that was the point of children, thought Caroline Meddey: to bind us to the earth and to the present, to distract us from death.” 13 likes
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