The Orchardist

The Orchardist

Amanda Coplin

First Sentence:     His face was as pitted as the moon

Back of the book:

At the turn of the twentieth century, in a remote stretch of Northwest America, a solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were his children. One day, two teenage girls steal his fruit at the market. Feral, scared and very pregnant, they follow Talmadge to his land and form an unlikely attachment to his gentle way of life. But their fragile peace is shattered when armed men arrive in the orchard. In the tragedy that unfolds, Talmadge must fight to save the lives of those he has learned to love while confronting the ghost of his own troubled past. The Orchardist is an astonishing and unforgettable epic about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of his life when he opens his heart and lets the world in.

Quote from the book:

It was the rapidity that overwhelmed him and bothered his sensibility. He had moved slowly all of his life. He was used to seeing things drawn out of themselves by temperature and light, not by harsh action. But this was something different. This was how people lived, now.

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The Tiger’s Wife

Téa Obreht

First Sentence: In my earliest memory, my grandfather is bald as a stone and he takes me to see the tigers.

Initially I feared I might not enjoy this book as it is set in the Balkans and I have pretty much no knowledge whatsoever of the Balkans, or of the conflicts one usually associates with that whole region. I needn’t have worried however as this is a remarkable book which transcends any notion of time or place. It is a timeless story of death, of loss, and ultimately, of hope. Natalia is the narrator, and her grandfather has died after a short illness. In order to come to terms with her loss, Natalia starts questioning her grandfather’s life and pieces together the two stories that made him who he was: The time he spent in Galina, his childhood village with the Tiger’s Wife, and the three encounters he had with Garvan Gailé (or Gavo), the Deathless man. As the mystery of these tales deepens she begins to feel closer to her grandfather, even though she will never see him again. This is a wonderful book, full of memorable anecdotes and incredible writing. Needless to say it is preoccupied with death, so if that sounds off-putting it may not be the book for you, but I do believe it is ultimately a story, not of loss or sorrow, but of joy and love, and also, a story in the real sense of the word: Memorable, full of fully formed, unforgettable characters, and bolstered by a plot that just makes you want to keep on reading. Wonderful.

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