I am reading The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin.
Not gonna sugar-coat it, and as more than one review I’ve read about it says, it is “somber.” This is Coplin’s first novel (she’s 31). I wanted to read a first-time author, and it is set in Washington State where I lived for 10+ years. Her language really is beautiful and slow, the story unfolds at its own pace and draws the reader in character by character. Reading it also gives one an intimate look at the physical landscape of rural Washington, and tucks you into that mountainous green landscape for a while.
A quiet man, Talmadge, lives on and tends to his apple and apricot trees by himself. He is a gentle, pensive man who takes extreme care and patience with his orchards and the land he inhabits. One day, two teenaged pregnant girls show up in his fields like scared animals. The story that follows tells how their lives become intertwined, how they come to take care of one another, and how they ride out life’s inevitable tragedies each in their own way.
This is not exactly a feel-good novel, and it may be too much for some readers in the dead of a Cleveland winter, but I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a novel told in stunning language and filled with unforgettable characters. A beautiful and humbling story.