Friday, March 25, 2016

Book Review: At the Edge of the Orchard

I'm a big fan of author Tracy Chevalier. I have read most of her books including:

The Virgin Blue
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Falling Angels
The Lady and the Unicorn
Burning Bright
Remarkable Creatures
The Last Runaway

Her latest work of historical fiction, At the Edge of the Orchard, was just released the Tuesday before last. I started reading last Sunday night and stayed up late to finish it Wednesday night. This selection from my Winter Reading List was good. What I like about the author is how vividly she depicts a moment in history. Plus, she heavily researches a subject that the protagonists are passionate about or the main subject matter of the novel, which truly enriches the story. Usually, it's some kind of art or craft. This time, it was apple trees.

I picked up the hardcover at the library.

The book is about the Goodenough family, American pioneers who venture west during the 19th century. They literally get stuck in the mud in a place known as the Black Swamp in Ohio and decide to settle there. Apparently, there was a law to plant 50 apple trees in a certain amount of time. This acts to clear the land. Johnny Appleseed was a real life figure who traveled the area selling this particular tree. The Goodenoughs are a dysfunctional family, although passionate about apple trees, albeit in different ways! One character only likes them for the alcohol you can make called applejack and to use them as pawns in order to create drama within the family! Frontier life was hard. This is a tale of survival. While depressing, it was also captivating because the character development was so strong and the writing so vivid. You want to see how it all turns out!

If you have read Tracy Chevalier before, have an interest in this particular period of American history, or simply want to be enthralled by a fantastic work of fiction, then I recommend this book.

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