In her last novel, The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier returned to her American roots for the first time, setting her story on the Ohio frontier in 1850. At the Edge of the Orchard opens in similar circumstances: James Goodenough, whose family had originally settled in Connecticut from England brings his family to Ohio to carve out a new life for them in the Black Swamp in 1838. His ancestors had brought a graft of an Orange Pippin and James – via regular encounters with Jonny Appleseed – has done so too, setting himself ultimately on a course against his wife Sadie. As swamp fever gradually picks off their children and they wrestle daily with survival, Sadie wants nothing more than to lose herself in applejack, made from the ‘spitter’ trees that James rejects and attempts to civilise and graft into ‘eaters’, and particularly into his precious pippins. This course will see their family engulfed in tragedy and fifteen years later we pick up with their youngest son, Robert who has been running west since the trying to escape his memories of what happened, taking solace in a very different kind of tree – the redwoods and sequoias of California. But Robert’s past catches up with him and he’s forced to confront what he’s running from and work out for himself that you can’t run for ever. A fascinating insight into early American life written with Tracy’s trademark style and panache. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
The sweeping and compelling new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring. 'Dark, brutal, moving, powerful' Jane Harris 'A wonderful book; rich, evocative, original. I loved it' Joanne Harris What happens when you can't run any further from your past? Ohio, 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. Life is harsh in the swamp, and as fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts. James patiently grows his sweet-tasting 'eaters' while Sadie gets drunk on applejack made fresh from 'spitters'. Their fighting takes its toll on all of the Goodenoughs - a battle that will resonate over the years and across America. Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through Goldrush California and haunted by the broken family he fled years earlier. Memories stick to him where mud once did. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past, and one day Robert is forced to confront the brutal reason he left behind everything he loved. In this rich, powerful story, Tracy Chevalier is at her imaginative best, bringing to life the urge to wrestle with our roots, however deep and tangled they may be.
|Publication date:||23rd February 2017|
|Publisher:||The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
Closing date: 07/10/2021
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
Praise for At the Edge of the Orchard: 'Dark, brutal, moving, powerful
'A wonderful book; rich, evocative, original. I loved it'
'It's her best since Girl with a Pearl Earring, telling the story both of America and a pioneer family with acuity, freshness and zest. I was captivated by it'
Amanda Craig Praise for The Last Runaway:
'I have always admired Tracy Chevalier's un-showy brilliance, and this moving story of a young English Quaker girl trapped between duty and conscience in 1850s Ohio is the best thing she's written since Girl with a Pearl Earring'
'The Last Runaway is a joy to read. Chevalier handles the intersection of two stories - those of pioneering Quakers and escaping slaves - with verve, imagination and, above all, compassion'Maggie O'Farrell
'By far her best book since Girl With A Pearl Earring if not better'
'Chevalier places her heroine at the heart, constructing a synergy between character and plot that makes this novel exquisitely complete... addictively compelling... Honor Bright deserves a sequel'
'Her best since Girl With a Pearl Earring... as a serious novel about a genuine moral dilemma, it is highly recommended'
'Chevalier immerses herself in period and place. Her research, as always, is meticulous and lightly worn... an entertaining read'
'A gripping and potent novel which shows Chevalier at the height of her powers'
'Tracy Chevalier has found a subject that both fascinates and moves her and the result is this quietly powerful and gripping novel'
Tracy Chevalier is the author of six previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn, Burning Bright and Remarkable Creatures. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son. The film of Girl with a Pearl Earring, starring Colin Firth as Vermeer, was released in the UK in January. It was nominated for 10 BAFTAs and two Academy Awards. Photograph © Eammon McCabeMore About Tracy Chevalier