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The Orchard

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The Orchard is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian Curtis, the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, young Theresa finds life with Adrian on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected.

Rejected by her husband's family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew and the land that has been in his family for generations. She becomes a reluctant player in their attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard, but she and Adrian eventually come to know that their efforts will not only fail but will ultimately take an irreparable toll.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Theresa Weir

35 books312 followers
Theresa Weir (a.k.a. Anne Frasier) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels and numerous short stories that have spanned the genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, and memoir. During her award-winning career, she's written for Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Books/Random House, Silhouette Books, Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, and Amazon's Thomas & Mercer. Her titles have been printed in both hardcover and paperback and translated into twenty languages.

Her first memoir, THE ORCHARD, was a 2011 Oprah Magazine Fall Pick, Number Two on the Indie Next list, a featured B+ review in Entertainment Weekly, and a Librarians’ Best Books of 2011. Her second memoir, THE MAN WHO LEFT, was a New York Times Bestseller. Going back to 1988, Weir’s debut title was the cult phenomenon AMAZON LILY, initially published by Pocket Books and later reissued by Bantam Books. Writing as Theresa Weir, she won a RITA for romantic suspense (COOL SHADE), and a year later the Daphne du Maurier for paranormal romance (BAD KARMA). In her more recent Anne Frasier career, her thriller and suspense titles hit the USA Today list (HUSH, SLEEP TIGHT, PLAY DEAD) and were featured in Mystery Guild, Literary Guild, and Book of the Month Club. HUSH was both a RITA and Daphne du Maurier finalist.


An Oprah Magazine Fall Pick
Featured B+ Review in Entertainment Weekly
Number Two on October Indie Next List
BJ's Book Club Spotlight
LIbrarians' Best Books of 2011
Maclean's Top Books of 2011
On Point (NPR) Best Books of 2011
Abrams Best of 2011
Publishers Lunch (Publishers Weekly) Favorite Books of 2011
Eighth Annual One Book, One Community 2012, Excelsior, Minnesota
Target Book Club Pick, September 2012


Title List

Hush, USA Today bestseller, RITA finalist, Daphne du Maurier finalist (2002)
Sleep Tight, USA Today bestseller (2003)
Play Dead, USA Today bestseller (2004)
Before I Wake (2005)
Pale Immortal (2006)
Garden of Darkness, RITA finalist (2007)
Once Upon a Crime anthology, Santa’s Little Helper (2009)
The Lineup, Poems on Crime, Home (2010)
Discount Noir anthology, Crack House (2010)
Deadly Treats Halloween anthology, editor and contributor, The Replacement (September 2011)
Once Upon a Crime anthology, Red Cadillac (April 2012)
Woman in a Black Veil (July 2012)
Dark: Volume 1 (short stories, July 2012)
Dark: Volume 2 (short stories, July 2012)
Black Tupelo (short-story collection July 2012)
Girls from the North Country (short story, August 2012)
Made of Stars (short story, August 2012)
Stars (short story collection, August 2012)
Zero Plus Seven (anthology, 2013)
Stay Dead (April 2014)

The Forever Man (1988)
Amazon Lily, RITA finalist, Best New Adventure Writer award, Romantic Times (1988)
Loving Jenny (1989)
Pictures of Emily (1990)
Iguana Bay (1990)
Forever (1991)
Last Summer (1992)
One Fine Day (1994)
Long Night Moon, Reviewer’s Choice Award, Romantic Times (1995)
American Dreamer (1997)
Some Kind of Magic (1998)
Cool Shade RITA winner, romantic suspense (1998)
Bad Karma, Daphne du Maurier award, paranormal (1999)
Max Under the Stars, short story (2010)
The Orchard, a memoir (September 2011)
The Man Who Left , a memoir and New York Times bestseller (April 2012)
The Girl with the Cat Tattoo (June 2012)
Made of Stars (August 2012)
Come As You Are (October 2013)
The Geek with the Cat Tattoo (December 2013)

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891 (26%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 620 reviews
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
616 reviews337 followers
September 7, 2015
24 hours after beginning and 5 bold ★★★★★

“There are things you don’t talk about. There are things you don’t want people to know because as soon as they know, you change. You become someone different in their eyes.

I captured the pattern of the mowed fields, but I could never capture a green so deep it hurt, or the secret organic scent of the ground when it’s been sliced open with a plow blade. That couldn’t be captured with a camera lens or a pen. That sweet ache of nature and time that kept invisibly moving, no matter how much you wanted it to stop.

There was immeasurable comfort in knowing that this would be the rest of your life. And there was immeasurable sorrow in knowing that this would be the rest of your life.”

Such wonderful writing. A courageous, beautiful, and haunting memoir that made me hurt way down deep. I wish everyone could take this book in with open eyes and hearts. I hope we can become something different. For certain the first of many of her books to be read.
Profile Image for Britany.
966 reviews417 followers
October 12, 2015
Can't believe I did it again!! I actually own a copy of this book, yet borrowed it from the library and read the library copy before coming online to see this book on my 'Own' shelf!

A memoir that reads like fiction, I'm always impressed when authors can make their lives read so fluently and felt cohesive enough to come together as a novel. The story of a young girl, quickly marrying into a apple farm, and learning to harvest while also learning what is most important in life. Tough childhood, and a marriage of rejection still lead our author to make better choices and in the end I was so proud of her for her decision to stand up for herself. Great book and pleasantly surprised to learn about apple farmers and the beauty of a Midwest backdrop bring this book to life.
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,490 reviews9 followers
May 9, 2017
The Orchard contained some wonderful things besides apples, which are my favorite fruit because of their versatility and fascinating history. It also held characters who felt so familiar to me, a farm girl at heart. Even though I have never actually lived on a farm, it is in my blood as with many of those I know and love. It certainly did not feel like a memoir, almost too tragic to be true, and told in lovely writing and detail. I am one that would rather not think about what we ingest when we eat store-bought food, but here you are forced to think about the pesticides that are used; and who is to blame for where we are today, I don't know. I'd prefer to pin it on the chemical companies like Monsanto than on the farmers themselves. For Theresa to have gone through all of this, and for her to tell her story, is a very commendable thing. I am left thinking about the many non-farmers as well as farmers, including my father and father in law, who have gotten incurable cancers in my lifetime, and it is very depressing.
Profile Image for librarianka.
116 reviews36 followers
October 23, 2011
I changed my mind about this book several times. It seemed so imperfect while I was reading it. And then midway through I have completely accepted it and loved it. I am very glad I read it. In the end I would say it is a beautiful book and an important one. I would say it is a book about being alone in the world, about being brave, about persevering, about not giving up on your dreams, about keeping this part that is only yours and independent while living in the world that is not exactly our dream world. It is about breaking horrible, horrible generational patterns of fake, angry lives and about love too. It's a different book about farming too, it paints a somber picture where we are now in terms of being on the path of destruction when it comes to agriculture and the food production in the United States. It is about the diseased world of the diseased industry. Theresa Weir doesn't condemn or preach, she is just a quiet witness that persevered and did what she needed to do. And I can't help but love The Orchard.
Profile Image for Caren.
493 reviews102 followers
April 2, 2012
This beautifully written book is so much more than a memoir. It is a haunting story of the demise of the family farm and the rise of industrial farming, with all the chemical cocktails large-scale farming seems to necessitate. I am probably close to the age of the author and I , too, married at age 21. I read the book in one day, as it pulled me back in time and into the middle America of the 1970s. The author had a very unhappy childhood, cut short when her father left the family (two children and a pregnant wife) to marry a wealthy widow. Her mother seemed to fall apart, raising her children in ever more economically precarious situations and with a series of unscrupulous men. By the time, at age 21, the author began working in her uncle's bar, she had already seen a lot the sordid side of this world. When a handsome local farmer came to the bar one night, the two felt an intense attraction to each other. Against the advice of her uncle and grandmother, they fell into a heady relationship and quickly married, knowing very little about each other. She quickly learned that the farm, the land, to which her husband had bonds stretching back generations, was entirely controlled by his iron-willed mother who thoroughly disapproved of the young bride. This marriage had all the makings of disaster, but through perseverance, it worked. The author will certainly strike you as a survivor. She seemed to take every difficulty her situation handed her and sculpt it into something alive and beautiful, or so it seemed to me. Her husband couldn't seem to verbally tell her he loved her, but she gradually realized the ways he showed her by his actions. The couple had two children, whom they adored and who formed the nucleus of a happy family. Some of the scenes she described--fishing, hiking the spring woods on the farm, the sound of cicadas riding the evening breeze through an open window---are very idyllic. Through it all, however, is the subtle menace of the chemicals that kept the farm viable. She also began to write novels, using the pen name 'Anne Frasier'. This particular book was apparently written about events that happened perhaps twenty years ago. Indeed, I can only imagine how painful it was to revisit some of these memories in order to share them with the reader. This is an important book, a book which at its core is about farming in mid-America, a book that deserves attention and discussion. Beyond that though, it is a beautiful story of a love affair that lingers decades after its temporal end.
Profile Image for Jaylia3.
752 reviews131 followers
November 27, 2014
After having The Orchard on my ereader for several years I began it almost on a whim. The memoir was supposed to be my back-up book, always there in my purse for emergency reading needs, but once I started in on it I found it hard to do anything else.

Theresa Weir came from a very broken home. First her father abandoned the family, and then her mother drove off or disposed of her and her siblings one by one. Weir was barely twenty-one and living and working in her uncle’s seedy country bar when she met Adrian, a young apple farmer who loved to draw. After a brief but passionate courtship of just a few months they married, against the wishes of both their families and hardly knowing what they were getting into.

Though the locals claimed Adrian’s family orchard was cursed Weir thought she’d be leading a strange-to-her but idealized farm life, but while she loved her husband it didn’t quite turn out that way. Her in-laws’ obsession with the family legacy of growing perfect unblemished apples made them harsh and controlling, Adrian labored from dawn until dusk, and the heavy scent of pesticides was always in the air.

Weir was used to difficulty and hard work, so though they barely knew each other when they married she and Adrian made a loving life together, but there’s a lot of heartbreak in their story. It’s a compelling cautionary tale, and this memoir of farm life and family is both beautifully written and deeply moving.
Profile Image for Karl.
79 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2011
Reviews always confuse me. I am going to assume that nobody needs a plot recap. There are far more talented people than I who have already done that.

What I liked about the book is that it isn't an environmental tract warning against the use of pesticides. While it does show in a personal way how pesticides can destroy lives, that isn't really the point. At least not for me. It's not even about the city girl moving to the farm and dealing with the change in life style, the abusive mom, the conflict between expectations and reality. Although that is, in fact, the whole story.

For me, it's about sharing a life. This is my life, these are the experiences and events that shaped me. This is how I coped, how I grew, how I changed, and how I dealt with them. Take from that what you will.
Profile Image for Ciara.
Author 3 books347 followers
November 16, 2011
what the hell? i waffled a bit about putting this book on hold at the library, but ultimately decided, why not? it won't cost me anything but time, & time spent reading is never really time wasted, even if the book isn't that good. this book is not that good. the reviews & jacket description built this book up to be way more than it is. the review in "book page," in particular was all, "weir marries a man she hardly knows & moves to his isolated apple farm, where she learns of dangerous mysteries that shake the foundations of everything she believes." i am paraphrasing, but that's not too far off the mark as far as making a person think they are going to be reading a thriller/memoir.

the fact that weir is a thriller writer under a nom de plume possibly colored the suggestions of the reviewer (& it's worth noting that publications like "book page" never give bad reviews, even if the reviewers have to lie through their teeth to keep things positive). the big dramatic secret in this book is...wait for it...spoiler alert...you're not going to believe this...large, modern, commercial farms often use pesticides.

i know. i couldn't believe it either.

oh wait.

i mean, not that we shouldn't care. pesticides have wrought a lot of damage on the environment & on the health of both humans & animals. there are many references throughout the book to the "curse" on curtis farm, which manifests in mysterious deaths & lots of miscarriages. the inference is that many of these deaths & miscarriages are caused by pesticides. but weir approaches the topic like she is writing a thriller. as far as i can tell, she didn't do any research outside of living on a farm for twenty years (which is nothing to scoff at, but is also not exactly rigorous scientific inquiry) to explain how pesticides were affecting the environment or the health of her loved ones. the jacket copy draws parallels between this book & silent spring, which...are you fucking kidding me?

& plus, the pacing of the book makes no damn sense. more than half of the book covers the manner in which weir met her husband adrian. they were together for only a couple of months before they got married. halfway through the book, we are still only a month or two into their marriage. & then suddenly, they have a child. a paragraph later, they have another child. a paragraph after that, three years & have passed, & then another seven. seriously within about a page & a half, ten years fly by. considering that weir's descriptions of her early marriage raised a lot of questions about whether or not weir & adrian would see their six-month anniversary, the fact that she stayed with him, on the farm she didn't seem to care for, in the house she hated, being bullied & ignored by her hateful in-laws for two decades straight, was shocking, & she provided no explanation for how or why her marriage lasted so long.

there were also a few passages describing weir's fucked up childhood, & i don't know what they were supposed to bring to the story. an explanation of why weir was so isolated? or why she was reluctant to put up with emotional abuse from her in-laws? i don't know. maybe weir just wanted to include everything because i think this is the only memoir she's ever written, but if that's the case, you'd think she would want to make it more than like 218 pages. also, how weird is it that in the end, she moves to minneapolis & says, "my friends now don't believe me when i tell them i lived on a farm." she lived on a farm for twenty years! how do you just "not believe" something like that? especially if her friends have met her kids, who grew up on said farm? it's like someone telling me they don't believe i lived for twenty years in ohio. why on earth would someone make that up? why would someone not believe it? is she talking about "friends" or random baristas at her favorite coffeeshop? what a weird sentence to include.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
October 31, 2011
When I first started this book I wasn't really in the mood for a memoir and almost put it aside twice, but the writing was excellent and I found the people, Theresa and her uncle very interesting. By the time I was done I had goosebumps. This memoir is about how 2 people, both exceedingly young, who have little in common, trying to make a go of a marriage and an orchard. When they have children together, they form a family and grow together to find, love, peace and a sort of contentment. Yet there is so much more in this relatively short book, ties to family and land, farmers and pesticides, expectations and hopes and finally an ending and a new beginning.
Profile Image for Heather Dearly.
Author 3 books14 followers
October 3, 2011
In her dark and deeply feeling memoir, Weir shares her story with candid, unflinching prose, leaving the reader grieving for the Theresa that once was and craving a sweet, clean after-the-last-page for us all. I can honestly say that The Orchard is one of the most pivotal books I’ve ever read, irrevocably changing my view of the world.
737 reviews13 followers
August 8, 2012
"Sometimes there are people you must forget because of the damage--blood ties or not." Theresa Weir describes her mother here, but could just as easily be referring to her vicious mother-in-law or one of the many men in the parade of her mother's unreliable, dishonest boyfriends. A luminous, tender memoir, The Orchard unfolds gradually, revealing a harsh, sometimes harrowing, childhood and an unlikely marriage between a stoic Iowa farm boy and a rudderless, rootless girl.

Weir's upbringing made her an unlikely candidate for the role of farm wife. Raised by an impulsive and self-absorbed single mother, she spent much of her early life wandering from place to place. In a typical move, Weir's mother follows a man across the country to Albuquerque, borrowing gas money from her six-year-old daughter. Upon arrival, she places a phone call to the man's home from a public telephone and dissolves into hysterics while the children watch from the car. The man is not divorcing, after all. She should have called ahead.

The turning point in Weir's life appears in black slacks and white shirt, walking into her uncle's bar for a beer. Youthful and handsome, Adrian Curtis immediately attracts the barmaid's attention. Much to her surprise, he returns her interest, and begins their brief courtship with a late-night horse ride. The young couple spends every spare moment together. Everyone around them disapproves. Propelled by youth, stubborn will, and infatuation, they are quickly married. At first, it's disastrous, and early on it appears the marriage won't last.

I won't kill the suspense for you. I didn't realize the book was a memoir until I finished. This knowledge made the reading experience more impactful. What an amazing journey this woman took over the years:

"Fear makes you brave. Fear makes you fearless. We left our terror back there in that old life, and here in this world everything was new even though it didn't ring with the same brutal and beautiful authenticity of soil and crops." I couldn't have written my own story better.
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,492 reviews146 followers
September 22, 2017
A memoir about apple farming and all the pesticide woes...

Narration: Ellen Archer
Setting: Iowa (I think)
Source: Audiobook (Library)


⇝Ratings Breakdown⇜

Plot: 3/5
Main Characters: 3/5
Secondary Characters: 3/5
The Feels: 3.7/5
Addictiveness: 3/5
Theme or Tone: 4/5
Flow (Writing Style): 4/5
Backdrop (World Building): 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Book Cover: 4/5
Narration: 3.5/5
Ending: 5/5 Cliffhanger: Nope
Steam Factor 0-5: 1

Total: 3.5/5 - GRADE = B-

⇝My Thoughts⇜

I don't read much non fiction…I only decided to read this because of a reading challenge, it was also a short listen and the library had it on audio, so it was winner in that aspect…because it didn't suck.

Overall, there are some aspects to this story that could have been done differently to make the story more interesting, like some unfinished thoughts and glossed over parts of her life, that could have been explored more. It's also told in a really somber voice that I never fully connected to, at least not until the very end, and seriously, something about the ending just clicked with me. I believe it was the situation with her mother-in-law-from-hell that she had going on, I can relate, after all. I even teared up, a little.

Will I read more from this author?⇜ I don't know, most likely not. I even own a book by her on my kindle…it was freebie.

Profile Image for Jackie.
692 reviews182 followers
September 14, 2011
Theresa Weir is a best selling author, both under her own name and under the nom de plume Anne Frasier. however, this book is very, very different from all of her others. This time, she's telling us about her early life, her marriage and the apple farm she raised her family on. This book is unvarnished and honest, and from what some interviews I've read, I'd say that it was almost as difficult to write as it was to live. There were certainly happy moments, but there were plenty of horrifying ones as well. Can you imagine living somewhere where every day you had the garlicky taste of herbicide in your mouth from the breeze coming through the window, or brushing off the dust of pesticide from your clothes after walking through the orchard with your children? Weir tells the tale of her family, but also of the large family run apple based business that her husband's family had been sustained by for generations. She makes the point again and again that farming isn't what your grandparents or great grandparents did anymore--now it's big business, big competition and plenty of politics. She admits that at the writing of this book, she had not stepped foot on the farm in 15 years, so she can't say what has changed, but knowing what she knows, it is extremely unlikely that anything has swung toward the better. This is an engrossing book on many levels, and a brave one. It sheds a bright and unwavering light on the secrets of culture, family, relationships and farming that will be impossible to forget.
Profile Image for Jennie.
33 reviews
November 16, 2012
I had reservations about reading Theresa Weir's memoir; It includes a hardscrabble childhood and a bitter single mother, and after Bastard out of Carolina (Dorothy Allison) and each of Mary Karr's stories in the “kick-lit” genre, I wondered if I was reading myself into a memoir corner. But Weir, an accomplished novelist (One Fine Day Bad Karma, among others), has the literary instincts to steer clear of the road already traveled by encasing her personal drama (city girl marries into a cursed farm family) in the larger story of a family whose lives are ruled by their apple orchard. Weir's husband Adrian is the quiet axis around which this story spins. "People who've never lived on a farm romanticize farm life. But people who grew up on a farm and perhaps still live on a farm romanticize it more. They guard it and protect it and pretend it's more than it is...They don't think about what will happen and who will be hurt," Weir writes. Rippling beyond to the water table, air quality, and soil, the pesticides leave their poisonous trail. While farmers try to forget that they hurt themselves with their reliance on pesticides, Adrian's early death from cancer signifies the inexorable toll that farmers all over the Midwest pay for their livelihoods.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Barb.
822 reviews
October 18, 2011
I always try to read books set in the Midwest or in Iowa. This one, for some reason really struck a chord with me. It was beautifully written and the story was so touching. There is the story of Adrian, the son who cannot leave the family farm. There is the story of the woman that he meets and marries shortly after despite the objections of both families. And of course there is the mother-in-law who lets Theresa know in no uncertain terms that she does not like her. Farming is such a hard life and their are so many challenges but it can be wonderful. But this story is also a reminder of the chemicals and things that in some ways our world requires because of the pressure to produce more or produce faster. Growing up in the 70's we didn't worry about the long-term affects of pesticides or whether what we were doing was good for the environment. Crop rotation was about as far out there as we got. We've come a long way but still have a long way to go.

This story is difficult to read but is like a rose opening. It is beautifully written.
Profile Image for Paula Gallagher.
130 reviews18 followers
July 27, 2011
Clear your afternoon, because once you enter The Orchard you won’t notice your cell phone is ringing or the fact that you haven’t eaten dinner. It’s impossible not to be drawn into a Weir’s wrenchingly honest story, one that includes abandonment, neglect, longing, hard work and a fierce desire for a place in the world. Although a memoir, The Orchard reads like the best literary fiction, with a prose style that begs to be read aloud and shared, and unbelievable plot turns. Ultimately, The Orchard is both a love story and an eye-opening ecological warning that is difficult to ignore. You’ll never look at an apple the same way again.
Profile Image for L.K. Rigel.
Author 42 books181 followers
October 4, 2011
Honest. Real. Dangerous.

I've been thinking a lot about Theresa Weir's memoir, The Orchard, since I finished it yesterday at close to three in the morning. The book is elegant in the scientific sense - in its simplicity, clarity, and honesty.

Weir tells a story about family dysfunction, both intentional and careless cruelty, and hopelessly entrenched environmental corruption all redeemed by love - love of her husband and her children, but also of art and beauty.

I think this is a dangerous book. What if everyone took a lesson from Weir and decided to live free and clean? How many apple carts would that upset?
Profile Image for Sharon Huether.
1,474 reviews10 followers
December 14, 2017
A story of a family that farming apples was a past down tradition and all they did follow tradition, even the pesticides they stored and used.
The use of these chemicals claimed the lives of Grandad Curtis and son Adrian Curtis leaving his wife Theresa and two children to move away, still remembering what could have been if her husband Adrian had his way of farming.
This story was a page turner.
Profile Image for Girl.
545 reviews38 followers
January 10, 2018
I received a free e-book copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Orchard tells the story of the author's youth and the circumstances surrounding the beginning of her marriage to Adrian, an apple farmer. However, while the eponymous orchard may seem a location out of a fairytale, in reality it conceals hard, unforgiving work, unwanted familial responsibilities and, the darkest secret of all, the use of pesticides in order to keep the apples healthy and beautiful.

It is a beautifully written book. The language and the descriptions are simply gorgeous. It is worth re-reading some paragraphs a couple of times to notice how deliberate and precise the author's turns of phrase are. The true craftsmanship of The Orchard definitely lies in the language.

The story itself is sometimes difficult to read due to how unpleasant it can be (especially with regards to realities of farm life and health hazards involved in this way of farming), but it is also quite engaging and touching. Actually, though, I would appreciate it if the book had been a little longer, and some issues a little better explored; it feels somewhat as if the author had intended it to be more in-depth, but she had run out of steam partway through the writing and finished everything sooner than she'd planned to. Still, as it is, The Orchard is a good book, if not a perfect one.

Profile Image for Jane.
173 reviews16 followers
November 3, 2011
Here's the review I wrote for the library blog:

I've enjoyed just about every novel Theresa Weir has written (both as herself and as Anne Frasier) so I was curious to read her memoir of life on an Iowa apple farm. That I liked the book isn't a shocker. And the fact that the book is darker in tone then the cover suggests was also to be expected considering the kind of writing she's always done. What did surprise me was how deeply I felt what she wrote about her life and how it has stuck with me since I finished. This spare and matter-of-fact re-telling of a sometimes dark, often difficult period in her life is also a bittersweet love story that strikes an entirely true note.

At the age of twenty-one Theresa was working in her uncle's bar in Iowa farm country along the Mississippi. When Adrian Curtis walks into the bar the attraction is instant and almost miraculous to a young woman whose life had been hard and chaotic. Adrian quickly becomes her focus and she his. Though Theresa is warned away by her uncle, she quickly marries this young farmer she barely knows. Before she has time to process her choice she finds herself living in the small house set aside for the farm workers on the Curtis property. Her new husband is barely present and she can't quite figure out why he married her. Was it a form of rebellion against his controlling parents? Did he see in her some of the freedom he'd never have as the son destined to run an apple orchard that's been in the family for five generations? Does he love her? Theresa doesn't know. As she builds a life with Adrian he remains an enigma. Through all the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs - the moths who could kill off the orchard, the in-laws who despise her, the birth of her children - the one constant is the farm. Adrian tells her early on in their marriage that the farm comes first and that fact never changes.

Ms. Weir reveals some deeply painful moments in her life as she moves back and forth between her peripatetic childhood and her married life, but she doesn't dwell in them. Yes there is pain but there is also self-discovery and growth and underlying it all is the love she comes to feel for Adrian. And the truths she lays bare about the life of a farm and the farmers who work it are both simple and, dare I say it, profound.

"People who've never lived on a farm romanticize farm life. But people who grew up on a farm and perhaps still live on a farm romanticize it more. They guard it and protect it and pretend it's more than it is."


"Every day farmers got out of bed because animals were waiting to be fed. No matter how brutal the weather, no matter if it was a weekend or Christmas or twenty below zero...It made old men out of boys, and eldest sons worked for pennies a day with the promise that the very thing that had made them old before their time, the very thing that had killed their fathers and their grandfathers, would one day be theirs."

As someone who grew up amongst dairy farmers, I know how true these statements are. There is no end to the work but there is no end to the devotion either. Clearly this is something Ms. Weir learned as well
144 reviews13 followers
October 25, 2011
“The orchard” by Theresa Weir is a memoir of her life on the farm with her young husband. It is simultaneously a love story, a man versus nature battle, and a description of small town life

The story starts when Theresa, twenty-one years old and working at her Uncle Jim’s bar—meets the gorgeous Adrian Curtis, a farmer who works on his family’s apple farm and has a reputation of coming from a “cursed” background (various members of his family died in tragic ways, while the farm had its own set of troubles). While her uncle advises Theresa to avoid getting involved with Adrian, Theresa won’t listen and ultimately marries him. Soon enough, Theresa and Adrian are living at his family’s farm. While adjusting to her new life, Theresa has conflicts with Adrian—who shows himself to be less mature than Theresa expected—and his mother Ruth, who refuses to accept her into the family.

As Theresa describes her current life, she devotes separate chapters to her old one—sharing a childhood where her mother is left by her father, and enters into various doomed relationships with different men. Ultimately her mother’s experience has a great impact on the author’s life, as Theresa’s attachment to Adrian is tied to her own wish of having a stable family.

Overall, this is a very touching memoir. It’s much shorter that I thought it was going to be and a pretty quick read. The author shares a lot of personal details, and touches upon themes like loneliness, resilience, and the sheer unpredictability of life. The ending was not what I expected, but, in hindsight, exactly what the author hinted at throughout the book. There’s a decent amount of foreshadowing hidden in the text. Between exploring the different relationships—the author’s and her husband’s, the son’s and his dominating family’s, the young bride’s and her disapproving mother-in-law’s, the single-mother’s and the mature-beyond-her-year’s daughter’s, and the lonely uncle and the adventurous niece’s—I found this to be a very human story with a few lessons to it. If I had to characterize this memoir in one word, it would be “insightful.”
Profile Image for Christa.
2,214 reviews421 followers
December 11, 2011
I have read and truly enjoyed books by this author under both the Weir and Frasier names. While I do not generally like to read memoirs, I was attracted to this one due to having read quite a few of the author's fictional books. I am so glad that I received this ARC from Netgalley. It was such a moving story, and truly heart wrenching in places. I felt that this book read more like a work of fiction than a memoir, making it easy to read and more enjoyable for me than most books of the genre.

Theresa Weir gives us glimpses into her difficult and rather unusual childhood, and tells the story of her meeting, short courtship, and marriage to her husband, Adrian Curtis. Marrying fairly quickly after meeting, Theresa feels that Adrian regrets their marriage, and she is completely rejected by his family. After an aborted attempt to leave the marriage, she and Adrian come to really know one another and make a life together. They seem to have found happiness with one another and their two children when Adrian's devotion to the orchard his family owns results in tragedy for the family.

It was wonderful to read Theresa Weir's story and to learn about her life. After gaining a new perspective, I am looking forward to reading the books by her that I have missed, and re-reading those that I have read before. Her story was so sad and sweet, and it moved me to tears several times. I am so glad that she gave us this insight into her life, while at the same time giving voice to a warning of the dangers that farmers face.

Profile Image for Lisa.
507 reviews
October 18, 2011
"People who've never lived on a farm romanticize farm life. But people who grew up on a farm and perhaps still live on a farm romanticize it more. They guard it and protect it and pretend it's more than it is...They don't think about what will happen and who will be hurt"

Theresa Weir's memoir about her rough, impoverished childhood and her young adulthood on an apple farm makes for mesmerizing reading. She refrains from falling into tired cliches (she is an accomplished author, although this is the first book I've read of hers) and gives her personal story a broader perspective by considering the environmental impact of big farms.

Any memoir that contains difficult memories must have been hard to write, and sometimes I wondered if the author emotionally distanced herself in order to write this - sometimes that lack of connection came through in the writing. She doesn't even ever mention her own name throughout the book.

But overall this book gave me a lot to think about, both on a personal and global level.
Profile Image for Candida Pugh.
Author 4 books18 followers
February 15, 2012
The Orchard perhaps attempts too much--covering the rocky beginnings of an impetuous marriage through the horrors of corporate and individual farming with killer chemicals. Because of her ambition to write an ecological broadside, Weir perhaps shorts the intriguing story of a young woman who would enter into such an improbable alliance and stick with it through what looks to be a horror show. I found the final blast at her villain of a mother-in-law unsatisfactory, after a lifetime of misery that woman tried to inflict on her son and his wife. I also wondered about the Dickensian awfulness of the MIL. Possibly Weir could've looked deeper into her and found some shred of humanity. I'm not saying they would've become great friends, but Weir might have illuminated a hateful character so the reader got more out of the book than a teeth-gritting sense of disgust. Nevertheless, she tells a good tale, disturbing and engaging, and her writing doesn't get in the way too much.
Profile Image for Renee.
34 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2013
This book read almost like a fictionalized memoir. Of course, I know that there were character composites, but it also speaks to the kind of life this woman had lived.

I could definitely feel the disconnect that was there at certain points that enabled her to go back into it and get it to paper.

I felt a personal connection because when I lived in Sampson County, surrounded by cotton and tobacco fields, I know EXACTLY the smells and the thoughts that lived in my head about the impact on the natural world around me, on ME. I KNOW that being diagnosed with a wacked out thyroid and fibromyalgia was brought on by pesticides and herbicides. It's quietly insidious and threatening and just strange how nobody really talks about it.

Well done. And Well done representing the two children. Enough detail to get your picture of them but not too much detail that takes away from their privacy.
Profile Image for Liralen.
2,752 reviews161 followers
July 30, 2015
I was pretty ambivalent about this until I realised that it read to me like a piece of tightly woven fiction, which can be hard to come by in memoir. Several things going on here, all overlapping and influencing one another: Weir's young marriage and learning to be part of a unit (the part with the lesser say, not incidentally); the family she married into, which was (to say the least) not welcoming; the family's orchard (its pride and joy, second to none); Weir's difficult, broken childhood (and mother who was troubled, to put it nicely); concerns about pesticides (first murky and then brought into sharp relief); her genesis as a writer. There's a lot of 'truth is more effed up than fiction' here, but it makes for a hell of a compelling (difficult) story.
Profile Image for Kayne Spooner.
193 reviews
December 4, 2011
This was a hard book to put down. Its an autobiographic story about a young couple living on his family's apple farm. One side of the story has you enjoying their beautiful walks on the farm and what they see, smell and hear then the other side shows the problems with the chemical spraying to save the apples from the dreaded codling moth. They struggle with his family's disapproval of their marriage. There is a section when she bakes a beautiful apple pie that had my taste buds salivating but I will look for organic apples before I bake that pie. The story is sad, but leaves a deep impression. I became a big fan of Theresa Weir after reading Cool Shade.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,135 followers
October 2, 2012
Weir's memoir is often a sad and frightening story, but a heartfelt love story with happy times as well. Her strong character takes her through a difficult childhood with a wild mother, a challenging marriage with a man she loves, life on a "cursed" farm with horrid in-laws and living in an atmosphere of breathing harmful chemicals.

Definitely a book with an important message especially with recent news informing consumers that just rinsing fruit, particularly apples, is not enough. (use a veggie brush and dry) Surely same pesticides are not used today, but I for one will not soon forget this book!

Final note: great parting words by Weir to the evil mother-in-law!

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