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At the Edge of the Orchard

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

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

Sarah Broadhurst

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