(Starred review.) The implacable hand of fate, and the efforts of a quiet, reclusive man to reclaim two young sisters from their harrowing past, are the major forces at play in this immensely affecting first novel. In a verdant valley in the Pacific Northwest during the early years of the 20th century, middle-aged Talmadge tends his orchards of plum, apricot, and apples, content with his solitary life and the seasonal changes of the landscape he loves. Two barely pubescent sisters, Jane and Della, both pregnant by an opium-addicted, violent brothel owner from whom they have escaped, touch Talmadge’s otherwise stoic heart, and he shelters and protects them until the arrival of the girls’ pursuers precipitates tragic consequences.... Talmadge turns unlikely hero, ready to sacrifice his freedom to save her. But no miracles occur, as Coplin refuses to sentimentalize. Instead, she demonstrates that courage and compassion can transform unremarkable lives and redeem damaged souls.
Coplin's compelling, well-crafted debut tracks the growing obsession of orchardist William Talmadge, who has lived at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains since the summer of 1857, when he was nine.... His orderly life is altered forever when two runaway girls, Jane and Della, arrive at the edge of his orchard, dirty, starving, and pregnant. A tragedy leaves Talmadge caring for Jane's baby, Angelene.... Verdict: Coplin's lyrical style and forceful storytelling provide many unexpected twists before the poignant conclusion. A breathtaking work from a genuinely accomplished writer. —Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO
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.
(Starred review.) Set in early-20th-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.
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