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Publisher's Summary

From internationally best-selling author Tracy Chevalier, author of A Single Thread, comes 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 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.

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

"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)

What listeners say about At the Edge of the Orchard

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  • TC
  • 02-03-17

It's Good Enough

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.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

The performance was superb

I listened to this as I worked in my garden. What a perfect match of book to task. I even learned new lessons. This book was well worth my time and I will have fond memories of our time together.

3 people found this helpful

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another good read

Every book by Chevallier has been different and entertaining in a new way. This one develops more male characters. I'm impressed with her ability to take the reader to so many different places and periods of history.

1 person found this helpful

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Pioneers relationships with trees is a hit

Tracy Chevalier can’t be beat as a storyteller! She brings the history of Ohio’s settlement by Connecticut pioneers to life in her lyrical textures and characters. Johnny Appleseed makes several appearances in this story based on the characters’ relationships with trees. That might sound odd, but it is wonderful. Terrific narration brings this all together in a very pleasing package.

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Good story line

Not really what I was expecting, but the characters were well developed and story line moved at a good pace. Narrator was very good.

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review

The book is full of misery . I am glad that the ending had some hope attached to it.

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Loved it!

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.

3 people found this helpful

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On the edge....

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.

2 people found this helpful

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This writer delivers a whale of a story.

Excellent factual information, as always this author paints a clear picture with words. The ending left me want more! Great narration too.

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Hated it

I had to read this for my book club and after enjoying the Girl with the Pearl Earring, I gave it a shot. Disappointed to the end. The story is told in first person (Sadie), third person (everybody else), and letters which were simply horrible. Not up to Chevalier's standard by any means. I kept searching for themes of family and redemption, but none were to be found. There was one line that cracked me up. "Her bosom smelled like bread." That was the one redeeming line in the whole book! Walk on by.....