Sunday, April 28, 2013

Falling Off in the Middle

Apple Blossom Time
photo by Amy Brandon

“Outside was quiet.  Light clear as water created shadows of leaves curled and minuscule on the ground.  She looked at the sky as she walked, a passionate blue.  Cloudless.  In the grove by the far apple orchard the apple trees were in shadow.  The sun postured along the curvature of canyon and illuminated the walnut trees starkly….  The sun on the porous bank near where she stood was lit up, incandescent, the minerals glittering and the dull mud peculiar and particular even in its dullness.  Each pore and streak and detail was washed and brought forth as is a person’s face by the light.” From The Orchardist

 The last two books I have read I loved until half-way through.  I still liked them both at the end, but lost some of my feeling for each of them for different reasons.    The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin succeeded in evoking its time and place and in investing me in the characters and their lives.   The main complaint I have about the novel is that half-way through, the plot starts to drag out a bit.  I felt like the story could have been told a little more succinctly.  I also ended up fairly disliking the character of Della.  I wanted to like her, and naturally, I pity anyone who grows up like she did.  I just lost patience with her.   To be fair, however, I will have to say that I have no basis for understanding her kind of misery.  The older I get, the more I see, every day, evidence of how truly messed up a person’s upbringing can make him or her.  I’d say the contrast between Della and Angelene exhibits this point perfectly.  Regardless of the dragging middle part and the irritation I felt with Della, The Orchardist is definitely a book worth reading.  The descriptions of the land and the people and of how they are tied to the land, the family saga and the harshness of people’s lives, and the feeling of place and time in the novel reminded me of Steinbeck’s East of Eden, which is one of my favorite novels.
After The Orchardist, I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  The first chapter of this book is almost perfect, and I loved the brilliant, quirky, highly improbable dialogue, which was very entertaining and laugh out loud funny sometimes.  There are so many themes presented worth exploring and considering:  existential angst, living your best life anyway, how small people and small infinites matter too.    The last part of the book, however, was so difficult for me to read that I don’t feel like I can say I loved the whole book.  It needs to be read, deserves to be read, but was not an easy thing for me to get through.  And that’s all I have to say about that.


Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I love reading a book that totally engages me, from start to finish. That happens rarely, I realize, but this week I did find some that did that for me.


Barbara said...

I have heard a little about The Orchardist and it intrigues me. I listened to The Fault in Our Stars and was very impressed. I think that having the voice embodied might have made a difference. She was easy to listen to right up to the end -- but I may not have felt the same way if I was reading.

Rachel Bradford said...

Interesting comments on both books. It's better to love a book all the way to the end...but sometime, I guess it's not possible!

My Sunday Salon

Amy said...

Both books are worth reading for sure.

Vintage Reading said...

Interesting reviews. I've read so many novels that start off brilliantly and then go a bit meh half-way through. I then go back to my Jane Austen novels which never fail me!

Amy said...

You're right! The classics never seem to fail me either :)

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