From internationally best-selling author Tracy Chevalier, a riveting drama of a pioneer family on the American frontier.
It's 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 50 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.
It's 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.
©2016 Tracy Chevalier (P)2016 Penguin Audio
"A rich, well-researched novel - it's the story of one young woman becoming an American." (NPR, All Things Considered)
"Well-told and engrossing.... With compelling characters and swift pacing, 'The Last Runaway' adds a worthy new chapter to a story that has consumed generations." (USA Today)
"Irresistible." (O, The Oprah Magazine)
I enjoyed this book!! The narration was great. Story left me wanting more. I found myself disliking sadie. and feeling sorry for the husband and Martha. Really great read.
So many ways to tell the story of Johnny Appleseed, fruit trees, the redwoods, the making of English gardens and yet Chevalier chooses unlikeable, uninteresting characters (a prostitute with a heart of gold, really?) and a plot you can figure out a mile away. Ordinary performances generally and the women who plays Molly sounds like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies. A hard slog and a waste of time.
Starting out planting apple trees in Ohio to collecting seeds from the gigantic redwoods and sequoias in California, a young man tries to find his place in the world as he interacts with various other strugglers in the new west. Tracy Chevalier is a excellent author of historical fiction. I've read all that she has written.
I thought this book was just a little slow in the beginning but WOW. I could hardly stop listening when I had to work. I am looking forward to more books by this author.
In spite of himself and his disfunctional family, Robert Goodenough ends up with a loving self reliant wife and two children. This is story from a grim and violent childhood, to years of being alone to his eventual union. He wasn' t sure her wanted to get there or how to get there, but he knew enough to say yes when the time was right.
My goodness, but don't the Goodenough's put the fun in dysfunctional? The death of the parents (no spoilers, don't worry) was the most horrific/funny scene I've encountered in a good long while. The human characters portray the bleak slog that is life, the hopelessness that life can become, and the redemption that life offers, and they do all this in the most morose, downtrodden circumstances. The other characters are the flora and fauna; the apples, especially the Golden Pippen, the apple trees, the California sequoia, the seeds. This story of struggle and ultimate redemption left me unsettled. Even Robert, who ultimately finds his way out of the dark abyss of life, is a broken soul. There are no sympathetic characters here, no one to root for, except maybe the spindly Golden Pippen trees struggling for survival in the wilderness.
Story transitions from unsympathetic parents to children for whom you will smile and cry. Heartwarming and epic tale of America going west.
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