At the Edge of the Orchard
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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
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.
- Richard Hamlin - 'narrative, gradually revealing key details in a subtle fashion, allowing the story to gently develop and grow...Its well told, evenly paced and was, for me, absorbing.'
- Sarah Harper - 'Stunning, haunting and truly memorable, this story of hardship and resilience, with its beautifully imagined apple trees and giant sequoias, will transport you effortlessly to another place and time.'
- Linda Hill - 'At the Edge of the Orchard is another of Tracy Chevalier’s books that I loved, admired and feel privileged to have read.'
- Tracey Copeland - 'Again Tracy Chevalier has shown us another historical era and place, the moods and desperate times of these people up against this lifestyle.'
- Hilary Stookes - 'Tracy Chevalier’s meticulous research has paid off as she has woven fact and fiction together in this book, which takes the reader from the Black Swamp of Ohio across America to California in the 1800s.'
- Jo-anne Atkinson - 'A new Tracy Chevalier book is a real treat and this is no exception. Exploring familial relationships, built upon the pioneer spirit and with a passion for nature this is a beautifully crafted novel.'
- Janet Lambert - 'I was sucked into the black swamp from the first paragraph of this unique and absorbing tale and my destiny bound to that of Robert Goodenough as he searches for whatever it is that's missing from his life.'
- Helen - 'This book describes one young mans struggle to come to terms with his past, what made him leave behind everything he loved and start a new life and the highs and lows he faces along the way.'
- Dana Captainino - 'Tracy Chevalier does not disappoint. As with her other novels she demonstrates her supreme abilities as a writer with her flair for focusing down into the minutiae of a specific period and place in history.'
- Sue Broom - 'A straightforward historical novel based in part on real events. The human elements to this novel paled compared with the fascinating detail about the trees.'
- Jane Pepler - 'Chevalier’s writing is, as ever, beautifully descriptive, but never wordy or boring. Chevalier writes about the natural world in an easy, fascinating way'
- Angie Rhodes - 'This is an odd story, one that took a while to get going.'
- Phylippa Smithson - 'If you ever wanted to know in great details how the apple industry was established in 1830s USA, this is for you. If you don’t, perhaps move to a different book on the shelf.'
- Lou Woods - 'This book brilliantly captures the spirit of adventure and hope found in setting out for a new life, and the harsh reality of where that adventure might take you.'
- Fiona Rothery - 'This is such an original and powerful novel, I loved it! The author brings to life the people who bravely travelled to new areas, experiencing new sights, tastes and experiences,'
- Josie Barton - 'There is no doubt that, in the hands of this imaginative writer, this unique journey of self-discovery is both heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure.'
- Edel Waugh - 'The story is beautiful and tragic, truly grim at times, but Robert is resilient and does not let all the bad things in life keep him down...If you are a fan of the author already then I recommend this, if you are not then please pick this up!'
- Jenny Duffy - 'A memorable and affecting read.'
Win tickets to Chiddingstone Castle Lit Fest
We have four pairs of tickets to give away to hear Alison Weir at the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival Sunday 30 April 4 - 5 pm. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation. Draw closes on Friday 17 April. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 20 April 2017.
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
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 In 1830s Ohio, the Goodenough family barely scratch out a living in the inhospitable Black Swamp. Robert and his sister Martha must watch as their parents' marriage is torn apart by disputes over whether to grow sweet apples to eat or sour apples for cider and applejack. One particularly vicious fight sends Robert out alone across America, far from his sister, into a life dominated not by apple trees but by the mighty redwoods and sequoias of California.
Praise for At the Edge of the Orchard: 'Chevalier's prose is by turns muscular, raw and sumptuous... a delight
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
'Chevalier has carved out a middle-point between writing literary fiction and its page-turning, commercial counterpart and this book will serve both those audiences'
'A rollicking yarn of 19-century America'
'A densely packed tale of fruit, roots, family and hardship'
'A wonderful book; rich, evocative, original. I loved it'
'A stunning read'
'A kind of arboreal love song ... an absorbing depiction of the harshness of pioneer life and the impossibility of escaping familial ties'
MAIL ON SUNDAY
'Dark, brutal, moving, powerful'
'Powerfully realised ... [A] fine novel'
'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'
'Tracy Chevalier serves up a rollicking yarn of 19th-century America. What Deborah Moggach did for tulips, Chevalier may well do for apples'
'This novel of raw beauty touches themes Chevalier explored in her novel, The Last Runaway. It's a richly rewarding read'
'With Chevalier's excellent storytelling ability and gift for creating memorable characters, this novel paints a vivid picture of the hard and rough-hewn life of American pioneers on their Westward journey'
STARRED LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW
About the Author
Publication date23rd February 2017
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PublisherThe Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
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