The Orchardist:

A Novel

  • Read by: Mark Bramhall
  • Runtime: 14.5 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 8.21.2012
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Genre: Fiction/Historical
  • 14.47 hrs8/21/2012Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9780062204851

A New York Times Bestseller

A Publishers Weekly Pick of Novels on Women in the Wild

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Selected for the September 2012 Indie Next List

A 2012 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction

A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, August 2012

One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction

A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, August 2012

A 2012 BookPage Best Book for Fiction

A BookPage Book of the Day, September 2012

Winner of the 2012 Barnes & Noble Discover Award

An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012

Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2012

Set in the untamed American West, this is a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the land.

At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, an orchardist named Talmadge carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century. A gentle, solitary man, he finds solace and purpose in the sweetness of the apples, apricots, and plums he grows, as well as in the quiet, beating heart of the land—the valley of yellow grass bordering a deep canyon that has been his home since he was nine years old. Everything he is and has known is tied to this patch of earth. It is where his widowed mother is buried, taken by illness when he was just thirteen, and where his only companion, his beloved teenage sister Elsbeth, mysteriously disappeared. It is where the horse wranglers pass through each spring with their wild herds, setting up camp in the flowering meadows between the trees.

One day, while in town to sell his fruit at the market, two girls, barefoot and dirty, steal some apples. Later, they appear on his homestead, cautious yet curious about the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, Jane and her sister Della take up on Talmadage’s land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. Yet just as the girls begin to trust him, brutal men with guns arrive in the orchard, and the shattering tragedy that follows sets Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect them, putting himself between the girls and the world, but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.

Writing with breathtaking precision and empathy, Amanda Coplin has crafted an astonishing debut novel about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of an ordered life when he opens his heart and lets the world in. Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, she weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune, bound by their search to discover the place they belong. At once intimate and epic, evocative and atmospheric, filled with haunting characters both vivid and true to life, and told in a distinctive narrative voice, The Orchardist marks the beginning of a stellar literary career.

Editorial Reviews

“When you pick up The Orchardist, you will be lured at first by the lushness of the language, the razor-sharp vividness of the descriptive passages. But soon enough—before you’ve finished the first chapter—the characters will take hold of you and you’ll read on hungrily, as if under a spell. It’s hard to believe that this is Amanda Coplin’s first novel. Already, she is a masterful writer, the teller of an epic, unvarnished tale that sits comfortably with other novels in the tradition of great American storytelling.” 

Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author

“Amanda Coplin has depicted her northwestern landscape with such fidelity that readers will know its every sight, smell, and sound. Within this world are compelling characters and their equally compelling stories. The Orchardist is an outstanding debut.”

Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author

“To read this mysterious, compelling, elemental novel is to immerse yourself in the world of an old folk song, in which the passions and sorrows of plain people rage unseen and then blossom as madly (and quietly) as apricot trees. In The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin shows us what’s unknowable.”

Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award and NBCC Award Finalist for Fiction, American Salvage

“Immensely affecting…This eloquent, moving novel concludes on a note of affirmation.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Set in early-twentieth-century Washington State, Coplin’s majestic debut follows a makeshift family through two tragic decades…The novel is so beautifully written, so alive to the magnificence of the land and the intricate mysteries of human nature, that it inspires awe rather than depression. Superb work from an abundantly gifted young writer.” 

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Patiently beautiful, The Orchardist builds its characters and its situations so carefully that the story becomes as real to us as this morning’s news—except that the news it brings us is from many years ago and is more dramatic than anything we might have imagined. I am in awe of Amanda Coplin’s book, which does not feel like a first novel but a life’s work.”

Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love, National Book Award finalist

The Orchardist is like one of its characters: ‘an egg encased in iron’—an elemental story filled with the perfection of the natural world. Nearly everybody in the book compels your admiration, either for their courage or for the heavy work they do, all the time and without complaint, even when wicked men are hunting them. Transfixing. I love this book straight through.” 

Salvatore Scibona, author of the National Book Award finalist The End

“A breathtaking work from a genuinely accomplished writer…Coplin’s lyrical style and forceful storytelling provide many unexpected twists before the poignant conclusion.”

Library Journal

“Coplin’s mesmerizing debut stands out with its depictions of uniquely Western personalities and a stark, gorgeously realized landscape that will settle deeply into readers’ bones…The prose abounds with poetic imagery, and the quotation-mark-free dialogue, which could seem like an affectation in a different type of story, emphasizes the melding of these solitary characters with the vast, wild place they choose to call home.”


“A rare find—this debut novel that reads with masterful authority. Amanda Coplin’s narrative is both stately and passionate—a stunning powerhouse whose assurance and drive convey a fully imagined world, mysteriously compelling in its unsentimental intensity. The Orchardist, like Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, drills into history, portraying an apparently modest American way of life but finally presenting us with a great American elegy.”

Patricia Hampl, author of A Romantic Education

Author Biography

Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington, and raised amid her grandfather’s orchards. She received her BA from the University of Oregon and MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Ledig House International Writers Residency Program in Ghent, New York, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Reader Biography

Mark Bramhall has won eighteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been a finalist for the Audiobook Publishers Association’s prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has been named by Publishers’ Weekly and AudioFile magazine among their “Best Voices of the Year” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is also an award-winning actor whose acting credits include off-Broadway, regional, and many Los Angeles venues as well as television, animation, and feature films. He has taught and directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

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