Friday, 19 February 2016

Review ~ At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier




24358244
The Borough Press
An imprint of Harper Collins
March 8th 2016


" The problem was, you couldn't go west of California, and Robert had never run anywhere but west..."



Black Swamp, Ohio, in 1838, is a place sinking in the mud of its own despair. James and Sadie Goodenough just about manage to eke out a living in the black mud which gives the swamp its name. Misery and desolation seem to go hand in hand, and even the simple joy of raising a family doesn’t lift either James or Sadie’s spirits. James finds comfort as a simple arborist, tenderly nurturing his Golden Pippin apple trees in the hope of securing a dream which will make the land his own. Sadie finds her own brand of comfort in the sharpness of applejack, an alcoholic by-product of apple growing, which is as tart as her tongue. The Goodenough children bear the brunt of James and Sadie’s petty indifference and for the children their only means of survival is the hope of escape.

What then follows is a sparse and beautifully written account of a moral journey which will span over fifteen years and which will see, the youngest Goodenough son, Robert, wandering throughout the pioneer lands of America always heading west, as that seems like the only place for him to go. Finding work with a plant collector, Robert discovers that his love of the land, of tending seedlings and observing the giant Californian Redwoods, brings him the peace he so desperately craves.

Part observational account and part epistolary, At the Edge of the Orchard is not just a love affair with the land and the wonders of nature, it’s also a story about self-determination and self-belief. There is no doubt that, in the hands of this imaginative writer, Robert Goodenough’s unique journey of self-discovery is both heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure.


At the Edge of the Orchard is a story about family. It’s about the unbreakable bonds that tie people together and of the challenges that life can bring.




Best read with...Crunchy bites from a sweet Golden Pippin and several glasses of tart and punchy Applejack cider...



About the Author

Tracy Chevalier

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Follow on Twitter @Tracy_Chevalier




My thanks to The Borough Press and Lovereading.co.uk Reading Panel for my review copy of 





Available to buy online and at all good books shops from the 8th March 2016


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