To what extent are we responsible for the people around us? It is the late 1800s, in the American West. Talmadge, who has been tending his groves alone in the decades since his sister’s mysterious disappearance, discovers two feral pregnant girls stealing his fruit. Rather than chase them off, he feeds them and prepares beds made of leaves. All is calm until the girls’ fraught past forces its way into the orchard. Talmadge will spend the rest of his life trying to atone for how he believes he failed one of them on that crucial day. “He has got it into his mind that he is to be the savior of that girl, and it won’t let him alone. He is going to die of it,” says Caroline Middey, the local midwife and Talmadge’s confidante. A novel of missed opportunity, courage and revenge, Amanda Coplin’s debut, The Orchardist (HarperCollins), gathers quietly like a storm, rages and then recedes, leaving the reader shaken yet standing in a place of calm.
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