• The Orchard Keeper

  • By: Cormac McCarthy
  • Narrated by: Ed Sala
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (211 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of America’s most celebrated novelists, Cormac McCarthy announced his towering presence on the literary stage with his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. Within the pages of this classic work, John Wesley Rattner, his uncle Ather, and bootlegger Marion Sylder find their lives dangerously entwined in pre-World War II Tennessee. There, the men’s tragedies and struggles are mirrored by the looming specter of industrialization.

©1965 Cormac McCarthy (P)2013 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Orchard Keeper

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Contains the embryo of McCarthy's future greatness

The disadvantage McCarthy has when an obsessive reader finally works back to his first book, is invariably McCarthy will be unfairly graded against his own amazing output. I liked 'Orchard Keeper'. I really did. It was superior in most ways to most writing out there, but it just didn't hold up against other McCarthy. If one considers 'Suttree' and 'Blood Meridian' to be his masterpieces (and thus 5 stars) and 'The Road', 'No Country for Old Men' and 'All the Pretty Horses'/'the Border Trilogy' to be solid pieces of American literature (all 4 stars), it is unavoidable that 'the Orchard Keeper' rates only three.

The great thing about reading this first McCarthy is you can see the germs of all of McCarthy's potential built into it. It contains the embryo of McCarthy's future greatness: great prose, amazing characters, beautiful scenes. If you love McCarthy, don't skip 'the Orchard Keeper', just don't expect it to blow you down, dry you out, and blow you away like 'Blood Meridian' or 'Suttree'.

41 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

McCarthy's first novel

This is as dark, complex, and beautiful as McCarthy's other works.
Ed Sala is not a great reader. He stumbles on some sentences, and his hard to understand sometimes. Richard Poe is much better.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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my review of The Orchard keeper

wonderful book as all his books are, the narration was wonderful and I shall seek him out

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A tendency to drift

I'm not going to lie - I found this one tougher-going. I've given it 4 stars because I'm a tragic Cormac McCarthy fan, and despite losing the narrative thread several times, the striking prose and rich characterisations alone are worth the price of admission.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Less than usual

It may not be fair to judge a writer against himself when speaking in general terms but this story is less than your typical work. A great story with better than average depth, still, not as strong as his following work.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Slow, boring, and easy to lose

I really wanted to like this book, but I found it so hard to get into. I had been debating whether it was the story itself or the narrator's unenthusiasic robotic tone, but it's more likely a combination of the two.
It was just so difficult to follow the story and the characters and to stay engaged. I abused the rewind button trying to backtrack and pick up things I missed-- more so than is typical for an audiobook. Still, I'd regularly find myself completely lost with what was going on in the story, who was who, and how the characters got to where they are, I continually felt like I needed to will myself into listening and paying more attention as opposed to just being captivated by the story and performance.

I like the author's other works, but this one just didn't do it for me.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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great book, poor engineering

The reader fails to capture the tone and the cadence of this great story. It was also poorly engineered with noticeable hum. Disappointing!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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This was no "The road"!

If you read or listened to The road by Cormac McCarthy and you are thinking this will be another story like that, better reconsider. My apologies to those who got this book, I did not. This book never came together as a story for me. It was like one huge run-on-sentence. my recommendations are to skip this one.

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  • K.
  • 06-09-17

not so good

I could not keep up with this book
it just changed courses to many times and I could not stay on track with the storyline.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • matt
  • 10-20-18

hard work, worth it

Even by McCarthys standards, this feels hard on the reader, he gives you nothing, it's fragmented, and tough to follow the plot (is there even a plot?).

but, as would expect, it is beautifully written, and feels intimately of a time and a place.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • B34VER
  • 04-25-19

Not impressed

I didn't really rate this, it seemed to lead nowhere. Shame as some other Cormac McCarthy books are among my favourite books of all time.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sean Calabrese
  • 02-05-19

Richly descriptive text!

Cormac McCarthy creates a world, paints vivid pictures with his words that stay with you for a long time. The Imagery he conjures up is hauntingly inspiring and leads to unexpected discoveries within the text as the reader percolates on it long after reading it. Considering this is Cormac McCarthy's first book, this bodes very well for all the subsequent books that followed it.! Brilliant!