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The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99)
TALMADGE was just a boy when his mother brought him and his sister to the remote place in Northwest America that they made their home and work, creating the orchards where they grew apples and apricots.
One day in the summer of 1865, his sister disappeared and never came back.
Talmadge worked the orchards on his own, tending the fruit as though they were his children. Talmadge, now in his mid-years, watches two girls who steal his fruit at market and, when he doesn’t scold them they follow him back home.
An unlikely bond forms between Jane, Della and he, but when a bunch of armed men arrive, their way of life changes abruptly and for Talmadge it will turn into a long road to redemption for losing his sister years before.
This is Amanda Coplin’s first novel but her skill is first-rate. Her style echoes the quiet of the orchards and the disturbed longing of Talmadge and the girls themselves.
It is a novel to savour; beautiful, enthralling and full of apprehensive tension.
I will await her next novel eagerly.