A heartbreaking tale, “The Orchardist” highlighted the unlikely compassion of orchard owner, Talmadge, as he cares for two young pregnant sisters who arrive unexpectedly on his property. After learning of the horrendous life they managed to escape, Talmadge cares for them by providing them with food and shelter as they all await the births. Neither girl takes an interest in the orchard or in forging a bond with him, which begins the tragic life these three lonely people will endure until they die. His kindness is unappreciated by them, and as the girls continue to take his food and live off him, he becomes a sympathetic character.
Although the book focused on serious topics such as abandonment, rape, and utter loneliness, Talmadge’s generosity and compassion was gripping. I found myself enraptured by his kindness and kept hoping it would have a beneficial impact on the girls. After a morbid death of the older sister, her daughter becomes enamored with Talmadge and is to him everything the girls are not. She loves the orchard and Talmadge, which was a rewarding aspect of the plot for the reader. I immediately felt empathy for the characters, as the author filled their backgrounds with immense and unimaginable hurt. As a result, Coplin crafted a truly heart wrenching tale. The writing was vivid, and easily allowed me to become a part of the orchard.
The ending would not satisfy people like my sister who are only content when everyone lives happily ever after. But I was content with the ending because the characters grew emotionally and their commitment to assisting each other demonstrates that a family can be comprised of anyone. Although this was a darker novel, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone ready to tackle a serious subject.