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The Orchardist

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  31,863 Ratings  ·  4,936 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
Hardcover, 426 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Harper (first published January 1st 2012)
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Helen The point may be that families come in all shapes and sizes. Though not of his blood, Della, Jane, Angelene and Caroline were his family. All to take…moreThe point may be that families come in all shapes and sizes. Though not of his blood, Della, Jane, Angelene and Caroline were his family. All to take the place of his sister.(less)
Nancy Sander I don't think the age thing would work out. She would have to have been middle aged and I don't think Della could be that off. I really wanted his…moreI don't think the age thing would work out. She would have to have been middle aged and I don't think Della could be that off. I really wanted his sister to come back into the book tho... too many unanswered questions in this book.
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Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
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 horticultural phenomenon. Nothing to spe
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
Aug 20, 2015 Lizzy rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
SPOILER ALERT - 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.

Jun 01, 2013 Tom rated it liked it
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
Mar 09, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
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
Random notes:
-- A blended family in which marriages never played any roles;
-- Lonely, orphaned people who landed up taking care of each other;
-- Good people being treated badly; bad people being treated good;
-- The sadness of time sweeping over history and destroying evidence of lives lived and loved;
-- Plum conserve with walnuts and raisins for the long winter days;
-- Apples, pears, walnuts, apricots, vegetables and horses;
-- An ode to loneliness in the richest tones imaginable.
-- A story abou
Jan 05, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book…powerful, moving and beautifully written with a spare, eloquent writing style similar to Kent Haruf, one of my favorite authors. The story takes place in Washington State at the beginning of the 20th century…yet in tone, it reminded me so much of Haruf’s novel, Plainsong, which was also lean and lyrical.
Talmadge, a quiet, compassionate and solitary man attempts to befriend two feral and pregnant runaway girls, Della and Jane, who were orphaned very young and shaped by h
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it it was amazing
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
In The Orchardist a lot is said by not being said. I was struck by the silent, intuitive communication by the protagonists. It started with Talmadge’s childhood friend Clee: ”It did not seem to matter, then, that Clee could not—or did not—speak. There was no deficit in their relationship, no lack.” Talmadge finds himself alone in the world after (view spoiler) Alone in the silence of his vast orchard, until the arrival of Jane and Della, two pregnant ...more
Oct 09, 2012 Annie rated it it was ok
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
Dec 01, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, favorites
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
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
Doug Bradshaw
Nov 13, 2013 Doug Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 17, 2016 Renata rated it it was amazing
I will never forget Talmadge, he of the giant heart, nor his orchard in Washington those long ago days, or the wild horses, or the sturdy generosity of Caroline Widdey, Clee, the Judge. Della's story almost made me stop several times and not return. And I wonder how Angeline carved out the rest of her life. I'm very glad I read this beautiful, tragic, hopeful novel written in some of the most tangible descriptive language ever to speak to all of my senses. Coplin's prose is so dense and richly m ...more
Sep 22, 2016 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Erstklassiges Debüt

Dieses Buch hat die größten Chancen bei mir unter die Top 3 2016 zu kommen.
Ich wage jetzt einfach mal zu sagen: "Wer "Stoner" gemocht hat, wird auch dieses Buch lieben."

Es geht hier um William Talmadge, der schon früh seine Mutter verliert. Als nach ihrem Tod auch noch seine Schwester Elsbeth beim Beeren suchen spurlos im Wald verschwindet, quälen ihn schwere Selbstvorwürfe. Er ist einsam, immer ist Elsbeth in seinen Gedanken.

"Irgendwann kam er unter dieser Trauer, unter ihrer
Nov 22, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
This is a very good book, beautiful writing, I just loved the main character Talmadge who had led such a lonely life until two young girls (sisters) appeared on his land.
Dec 22, 2013 Mmars rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 17, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
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
Sep 06, 2012 Elyse rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited to go hear to the author speak tonight in our area. I have tons of questions I'd ask her if possible, (I wish tonight were a 'book-discussion' rather than a book 'intro' >>> for selfish reasons of course... (having read it)

I was swept away reading "The Orchardist". I'm actually a little in 'aw'. (First book? Amazing!!!)

Master storytelling!!!!

Master Writing. (I love the 'clean' writing style of Amanda Coplin). Even the page at the end of the
Apr 19, 2013 Dem rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Judi/Judith Riddle
Nov 25, 2012 Judi/Judith Riddle rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2012 Judy rated it liked it
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
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 06, 2012 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
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
Talmadge’s story begins with loss. Loss of his father, then a few years later, his mother, followed still early in his years by the loss of his sister whose mysterious and unexpected disappearance haunts his days. He carries the sadness with him through his days like a toddler carries his favorite blanket, rarely letting go of it, feeling incomplete without it beside him. Days are spent in the orchard, tending the trees, or the occasional trips to town to sell his fruit. With the one unmarried f ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
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
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 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
Sep 27, 2015 Joyce rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Right from the start, I was totally captivated. In many respects its a gentle story and other times its hard. But the underlying flow is one of love and kindness that occurs among the characters. It's also about silence. Should horrible things be said, should hopes not be quenched and what if silence leads to unforseen events. Heavy. The description of the orchard is so sensual that you can almost see and taste it. A super read.
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
This is a coming of age story of sorts. Not of a child to adulthood, but of a man in his 40's who finds a family after years of being alone in his orchard in the foothills of the Cascades in turn of the 20th century Oregon. It is also a love story, a lament about life and longing, of possibilities, of life bringing people together and taking them where it will.

This is a such a good book, it's hard to believe that it is Coplin's first novel! Her writing brings the people, their story and the lan
Kris Irvin
Nov 03, 2012 Kris Irvin rated it it was ok
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.

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Goodreads Librari...: Please change book cover to better version 2 15 Sep 22, 2016 08:23AM  
Rural Docs Read: If you read one book this Labor Day Weekend... 1 2 Aug 24, 2016 08:44AM  
Tuesday Evening B...: Talmadge 1 7 Nov 13, 2015 04:47PM  
Tuesday Evening B...: Talmadge's first meeting of the sisters 1 6 Nov 13, 2015 04:45PM  
Tuesday Evening B...: Jane and Della 1 5 Nov 13, 2015 04:43PM  
Tuesday Evening B...: Della 1 4 Nov 13, 2015 04:41PM  
Tuesday Evening B...: Talmadge's relationship with Della and Angelene 1 7 Nov 13, 2015 04:40PM  
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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...

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“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.” 26 likes
“She revered solitude, but only because there was the possibility of breaking it. Of communing at last with another.” 25 likes
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