Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fig Orchard” as Want to Read:
The Fig Orchard
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fig Orchard

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The unforgettable story of a woman splintered by war and cultural mores, desperately struggling to hold her family together, THE FIG ORCHARD is a rich, compelling epic of love, heroism, family and empowerment. In an isolated, tradition-bound village high above the Jordan River, balancing delicately amidst age-old superstitions and religious orthodoxy, Nisrina Huniah, a fif ...more
Paperback, 450 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Rancho Publishing, LLC (first published June 13th 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Fig Orchard, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Layla Fiske Hi Karen, thank you for your question. Book club questions can be found at the very end of the book under the title that reads: READERS GUIDE FOR THE…moreHi Karen, thank you for your question. Book club questions can be found at the very end of the book under the title that reads: READERS GUIDE FOR THE FIG ORCHARD - Discussion Questions - But...Spoiler Alert! Don't read the discussion questions until you've finished the book, as it will give away some of the plot lines!! Enjoy!!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  278 ratings  ·  56 reviews

Sort order
This Coull Chick
I read this book a couple of weeks ago and I deliberately left it to review, I wanted to give it a good amount of time to settle over my soul. What I feel when I think of The Fig Orchard is sadness, not because this was an overly sad book (don’t get me wrong I did cry like a baby) or a bad book, no it makes me sad because no one is reading it.

What it's about

The unforgettable story of a woman splintered by war and cultural mores, desperately struggling to hold her family together, THE FIG ORCHAR
Cheryl Wedesweiler
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction
I won this book in a GOODREADS.COM giveaway on December 31, 2013. The author mailed a copy to me and I received it on January 3, 2013. The book was so interesting that I am glad that I started it immediately upon receipt.

This story takes place in Palestine before World War I. A young girl, Nisrina, is raised in a society that frowns upon the education of women. She is raised by her coldhearted father, but taken under the wing of her stepmother. An arranged marriage brings about feelings of fear,
Nicole Overmoyer
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Layla Fiske has painted a beautiful picture of a world I really never stopped to consider; the Holy Land in the years before, during, and after World War I. She leaves the reader with no doubt that she knows the customs, the dress, the food, and the climate of the time and the place. Her characters are human in their failings and in their accomplishments. No one is perfect and all pay self-imposed penance for the crimes they believe themselves to have committed.

There were times I wanted to shake
May 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
This book frustrated me to no end. I kept saying, "Where is this lady's editor?!?" I kid you not, one out of every ten sentences is a fragment. I guess that's her writing style, but it's maddening. And the rabbit trails! Just when the plot was getting exciting, she'd go into the whole life story of a minor character. The length could have been cut by half with no ill effects. To be honest, the only reason I read beyond the first hundred pages is because the story is so intriguing. But that even ...more
Jeanie Rucker
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Layla Fiske's historical fiction novel, The Fig Orchard, is an amazing and captivating read. She describes life in the Middle East so vividly that another culture unfolds before your eyes. Nisrima stays strong through life's unexpected trials and true to her only love, Jabran. Because of Layla Fiske's fine-tuned writing skills, the reader is captivated by many questions - some of which are not fully answered till the end of the book. I was left wanting the story to continue and I can only hope t ...more
Joanne Schroeder
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Our book club just read the Fig Orchard and we all loved it! What an amazing read!! I instantly connected to the main character, Nisrina, and as the story unfolded, I felt both her pain and her passion. It is sensuous and tender. I loved the settings, and am impressed with how detailed and realistic they were. I truly felt transported. The Fig Orchard ranks right up there with Khaled Hosseini's latest book - which I'd just finished reading - And the Mountains Echoed. I love a book that I keep th ...more
Kris Purtle
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Let me start this review by saying that I am a voracious reader. When I get into a book, I devour it. That said, when my mom first read this book, and raved about it, I was still hesitant to read it. I didn't think that it would be a story to my liking. Still, I purchased it, on my Kindle, to read before our book club gets together to discuss it. I waited, and waited. But, I finally sat down to read it, and I was captured from the start. I felt a kinship toward Nisrina, as a girl who just wanted ...more
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Thank you to the Goodreads First Reads giveaways program for putting The Fig Orchard into my hands. It is such a gift for book lovers to “win” the opportunity to own, read and review books before they are released to or realized by the wider public.

Layla Fiske’s historical novel is set in the Middle East during the early 20th century and follows Nisrina from the moment of her tumultuous birth into her marriage and child-bearing years, and then through the events that are set in motion by the fir
Gordon Howard
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
An excellent first novel by author Layla Fiske. The book has an interesting and somewhat overlooked historical setting, the Arab Christian community of Palestine in the first part of the 20th century, before World War II. The Middle East front of World War I, which pitted the Ottoman Turkish empire (rulers of Palestine) against Great Britain (rulers of Egypt), is not well-known other than through the story of Lawrence of Arabia, but plays an important part in this story.

However, the book is pri
Lee Fullbright
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Layla Fiske is an exceptionally talented storyteller. Her award-winning novel, The Fig Orchard, transported me (the highest compliment one can give a storyteller, I feel). And it educated me, taking me places I’d never wholly considered before (an Arab Christian community in WWl Palestine). And then it completely wrapped its arms around me, first with food and smells and traditions and figures of speech foreign, but also, strangely, universal and comforting, and then with love for characters one ...more
Diane Schuller
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book had me right from the beginning. It's one of those stories that had me thinking of it several times through the day; even wanting to drop everything to read further.

I won't soon forget this epic story. As the publisher uses in it's PR, I agree whole heartedly that this novel, "... is a rich, compelling epic of love, heroism, family and empowerment." I was fully invested in the characters, especially Nishrina the novel's heroine. This is a beautiful coming of age story about a strong g
Susan Ranscht
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who like historical fiction
Recommended to Susan by: Friends
The Fig Orchard, at its core, is a sweet love story. A story of the love between men and women, parents and children, and friends. A love that shows in the characters’ dependence on faith, the land, and its fruits. Food is a central theme. Set in the Middle East spanning from the early 1900’s into the 1930’s, the historical events and details are well researched and authentic. Ms. Fiske carries the Syrian culture in her genes and in her heart.

She flavors her writing style with a formality and pa
Janice Heather
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In "The Fig Orchard," Layla Fiske tells the story of a seemingly ordinary woman who lives an extraordinary life as she rises to meet the challenges of her times and a culture that does not value women.
Easy to read and beautifully told, this story captures the reader's imagination and heart. Even though we do not live in Nisrina's times, region or culture, we can very much relate to her experiences with love, joy, pain, loss, betrayal and finally contentment and redemption.
For a first-time author
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Fig Orchard was an engaging and well written book. While I read it, I felt transported through time and space by the author's descriptions of flavours, sights, and smells. Combined with the heartbreaking and heartwarming story, it was an engaging read. When I was not reading the book, I was thinking about it. Ever time I picked it up I was instantly reabsorbed in the characters and their lives. While the situations the characters experienced were far removed from my life, the characters and ...more
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The title was intriguing to me when I first saw it on Goodreads First Reads and I was thrilled when I won it and received a wonderful thank you from the author! I know if I am going to love a book or not after reading the first paragraph and I was hooked with this one. It was a beautifully told story about love, friendship and redemption. There was good story development which made it hard to put down and how the characters crossed paths was unexpected and rewarding. This book will stay with me ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was so nice to read a good, old-fashioned novel. To me, that means no artificial literary pretensions. Bad things happen to good people, they overcome them; something else happens and you are never sure if all will be well. Would be quite logical and realistic if the story ended in tragedy. I am reminded of "Gone with the Wind" - except the heroine is a thoroughly nice person and the war is in Palestine during WW I. And I never sympathized with the Turks as I did with Confederate soldiers!
Susan McBeth
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Only a gifted storyteller like Layla Fiske could do justice to this intriguing fictional tale of Nisrina Huniah and her struggles to raise three children alone in a male-dominated Middle Eastern culture after her husband is forcibly "conscripted" into the Turkish army. Inspired by her real-life grandmother's similar experience, Layla pays beautiful homage to her family with a story that will live on for a very long time.
Jeffree Itrich
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a mesmerizing tale to take you on a ride through history in a region of the world you've never been, read this book. Ms. Fiske is a masterful storyteller who surreptitiously makes you love her characters, well not all of them, but most. By the time you finish reading The Fig Orchard the characters will seem like old friends that you are sorry to see go. Perhaps Ms. Fiske will write a sequel featuring the next generation of the Yusef family. Hint, hint....
Patricia Tienken-boman
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Once I got past the first chapter, which for some reason I kept on putting the book down (maybe too many interruptions) after I couldn't put the book down, such rich descriptions and what a different world! It was enlightening to read about a country that we only hear problems in and their history. Of course I loved Nisrina and her strength. Looking forward to meeting the author at our book club gathering!
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this as a part of the Goodreads First Reads program. This is a very well written novel about life in the Middle East in the early 1900's. The characters were phenomenally done. I really felt like I got to know them. I really enjoyed reading this novel and I can't wait to read more from Layla Fiske.
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A beautiful tale, told in Syria, a land of turmoil. It gives you a delightful insight into a place which is so alien. Wonderful descriptions of the land, culture, dress and food, which take you on a glorious journey. The story of Nisrinia, her loves, her faith, her bravery and her maternal instinct, which had me entranced from start to finish.
Vanessa Springett
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book of love, loss, and perseverance. I could almost smell the flowers and taste the foods. Looking forward to meeting the author at our next book club. A very nice read. So glad I live where I live in the time we live. Reading books about other times in other lands make me appreciate my life even more.
Marie (UK)
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a beautifully written novel. The author sees all the detail in the world and includes it in this book so that the reader feels a part of it. Emotionally poignant, brutal at times, the characters are so vivid and real. The ending is fabulous but also leaves you wanting more
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A gorgeous story, filled with family, food, love and adventure. I couldn't put this one down. The writing is lyrical and the characters are very real. Looking forward to reading more from this author!
Cheryl, The Book Contessa
Touching and gripping novel

this is a wonderful, touching novel of family, hardship, betrayal, and hope. I would recommend this book to all who enjoy intelligent fiction. 4.5 stars
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The debut author richly weaves a love story, tragedy, perserverance in the face of daunting odds and long-held cultural Middle Eastern traditions into a page-turning novel. Nisrina is a 15-year-old girl who is unwillingly thrust into an arranged marriage in her village near the Jordan River in Palestine. However, she soon comes to deeply love her husband, Jabran, and they build a life with their children and his extended family. As farmers, they grow figs and olives. Until one day, Jabran is kid ...more
Jane Connor
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The unforgettable story of a woman splintered by war and cultural mores, desperately struggling to hold her family together, THE FIG ORCHARD is a rich, compelling epic of love, heroism, family and empowerment. In an isolated, tradition-bound village high above the Jordan River, balancing delicately amidst age-old superstitions and religious orthodoxy, Nisrina Huniah, a fifteen-year-old girl, is torn between innocent imaginings and looming apprehensions as she marries a man she has never met, onl ...more
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a first novel for this author about a Palestinian woman during the early 1900's. Nisrina was a young peasant woman from a small farming community, who wanted to attend school but was not allowed to because she was needed on the farm. Her mother had died in childbirth. Nisrina marries, has children, and then her husband is forced to fight with the Ottoman Army against the British. All in all, a fascinating read, well written and beautifully laced with the middle eastern foods and cultural ...more
Melissa Joulwan
I loved the concept of this novel, and it should have been right up my alley. My great-grandmother (my Sitti) came to the United States from Assyria right around the time of this novel, and it was fascinating to imagine her life there before her emigration... and to imagine what it might have been like if she's stayed in her home country. The descriptions of the food and environment are lovingly rendered by Fiske, and she treats her characters with a gentle hand (until she doesn't, so those mome ...more
Hannah Robertson-Forrest
This is a beautifully written story in a setting that is uncommon for novels during this time period, where most World War I novels focus on Europe. I found the twists, reunions, and "happy endings" for various characters a bit too forced, which also left holes about some of those characters' stories which did not quite add up.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Perfect Throw
  • The Fisherman's Wife: The Gospel According to St. Peter's Spouse
  • Safe in Your Head
  • Some Act of Vision
  • Stopped Cold
  • The Mouse Deer Kingdom
  • Spirit of a Mountain Wolf
  • Secrets of the Old Ladies' Club
  • Pure Trash: The Story
  • A Father's Son
  • Paint Chips
  • Running From Giants: The Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child
  • The List Conspiracy (Wallis Jones, #1)
  • Clan Fianna (The Fellwater Tales #3)
  • Coaster
  • The Vicar's Wife (Tales from Goswell #1)
  • Once, Only the Swallows Were Free
  • Altered Selves
Award-winning author, Layla Fiske, was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Southern California. The daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, she was raised with the rich culture, language and foods of the Middle East. A graduate of San Diego State University, she completed a career in the field of land use management while raising two children. Now the grandmother of three, she lives in San ...more