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The Orchardist

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  42,294 ratings  ·  5,962 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
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Popular Answered Questions
Cayce I don't think it needs to be a story that "makes a point." If you were to tell the story of your life, would it have a point?

I don't even think it's …more
I don't think it needs to be a story that "makes a point." If you were to tell the story of your life, would it have a point?

I don't even think it's meant to be a period novel, because it's themes are vast and timeless. I feel The Orchadist was a story about human relationships, both with other people and with a place. (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 sis…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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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  42,294 ratings  ·  5,962 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 s
Feb 21, 2013 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.

Julie Christine
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
Diane S ☔
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved absolutely everything about this book: the cover, the setting, the prose and the characters. That this is a first novel is staggering. Talmadge has lived alone for forty years, after the death of his mother and the disappearance of his sister, tending his orchards and giving a free pass to the wranglers and Indians that come onto his land with wild horses. His characters is stoic, strong, he is someone who always tries to do the right thing and he is someone I would love to meet in real ...more
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
Oct 13, 2012 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
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 5-star
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
Aug 30, 2012 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
Oct 03, 2012 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
Nov 14, 2012 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
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
** January 16, 2018 -- I re-read this book for our book club and am reminded why, more than 5 years ago, upon my first read, this book became one of my all-time favorites. I have nothing to add to my original review below, as the book still gets to me. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.**

This is a literary debut unlike any I’ve read – not ‘easy’ by any means, with lengthy, often poetic sentences broken up by lots of dashes and nary a quotation mark for dialogue. But it works – and oh does it work
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 23, 2015 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.
Elyse  Walters
Sep 04, 2012 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 story: 'a
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not a patient enough person to have liked this period book after its midpoint as well as it seems most others have. It is beautifully written, really, but its plodding pace ground me down after the first excellent half. The characters didn't grow or appear to learn much from their errors, so that last bolus of chapters - where I had high hopes for some type of resolution - just deflated for me.

The atmosphere is one of sadness; the kind that Sisyphus-like stories can engender. When in novels
Oct 04, 2012 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 (Again)
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
Jul 20, 2012 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
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great novels are not great because of how they end, but in how the tale is told. There are some books, such as Anna Karenina, where we learn a lot but the characters are less fortunate. There are others, equally well written such as Pride and Prejudice, where the resolution is more favorable for the protagonist. The Orchardist is a great novel.

This is a very introspective story, told mostly, but not entirely, from the perspective of the title character, William Talmadge. It spans a period from t
Mar 17, 2013 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
Doug Bradshaw
Nov 09, 2013 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
Very dreamy, lyrical novel, the pace and character of which is intimately woven into the landscapes, the seasons, the unrelenting hardship and loneliness of a settler's life in Washington in the late 1800s through to the 1920s. The area around Wenatchee, Washington is beautifully evoked, as is Lake Chelan and the early years of the fledgling fruit industry as it grew to the large apple export industry it would eventually become with modern transportation options.

On Talmadge's orchard, he is lef
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: donate
I felt this book started out great, but I lost interest very early on. Story just never seemed to go anywhere throughout most of book, and character's somehow just didn't connect for me. Author also seemed to repeat same conversations which made the book long and boring.

Anyway, it's 1860 when Talmadge, age 12 and his sister Elsbeth, 11 are left to fend for themselves in an orchard in the Pacific NW after their mother's death. (view spoiler)
Aug 01, 2012 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
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
Sep 11, 2012 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
I do not enjoy writing reviews for books I dislike. I am very happy others have enjoyed this book.

The tone of the novel is for me too sentimental, too nostalgic, too morose. The prose style is too purple. If almost every sentence irritates a reader it is difficult to enjoy the story. Here follows a quote:

“He walked so slowly, he seemed to be losing distance.”

I dislike lines that are worded to make a reader feel sorry for, pity another. I prefer to be given facts and left to decide for myself how
Apr 18, 2012 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
Kris Irvin
Nov 03, 2012 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.

Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dem, Sue, Kimberly, Pragya and any other friend considering reading this
Recommended to Judy by: Jeanette (Again)
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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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.

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