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“With impeccable research and flawless prose, Chevalier perfectly conjures the grandeur of the pristine Wild West . . . and the everyday adventurers—male and female—who were bold enough or foolish enough to be drawn to the unknown. She crafts for us an excellent experience.”
USA Today

From internationally bestselling author Tracy Chevalier, a riveting drama of a pioneer family on the American frontier

1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck – in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.
1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert’s past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.
Chevalier tells a fierce, beautifully crafted story in At the Edge of the Orchard, her most graceful and richly imagined work yet.

From the Hardcover edition.

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    Not a fan!

    At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier is not what I expected. James Goodenough and his wife, Sadie leave Connecticut (and the rest of the Goodenough family) to find a farm of their own. They end up in Black Swamp, Ohio (because it was so muddy they could go no further). James and Sadie had ten children (but only five lived because of swamp fever from the mosquitoes). Life is hard in the swamp, but James is determined to make a go of his apple orchard. James and Sadie do not get along. Sadie resents the apples (because her husband pays more attention to the apples than her) and does her best to sabotage the trees. Sadie is a drunk (on applejack) the majority of the time. Things do not end well for the couple and their youngest son, Robert takes off. We then have a series of letters that explain what Robert did for the next seventeen years. Robert ends up working for William Lobb as a plant collector in California. We get to see how his growing up years affected the rest of his life and the choices he makes. At the Edge of the Orchard was okay. I normally love Tracy Chevalier's books, but I was not a fan of this one. It is a slow paced book with unengaging characters. Parts of the book are told in the first person (Sadie and James) point-of-view. Sadie's part is hard to understand with her backwards way of talking (and accent). The rest is told in the third person (about Robert). The descriptions of the apples, the orchards, and the plants/trees in California were lovely and interesting. The pace of the novel, though, is slow (I think apples grow faster). The writing is good, but the story is depressing. There is domestic violence, foul language, sex, and incest in this novel (just fair warning). I give At the Edge of the Orchard 3 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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    Bitter sweet apples

    Easy read.. Sad, geographical saga...story of strife and struggle and family disconnecting . tragic yet it leaves you hopeful


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