William Talmadge is an orchardist in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century.
is no longer a young man and he
carries a continuing grief for his
sister who disappeared one day into the woods and was never seen again when they were both still children.
It is this history which perhaps allows Talmadge
to tolerate two young girls who appear on his
property, both pregnant and traumatized.
is drawn to the girls, wants to care for them and provides them with food and a place to stay ... but it is an uneasy alliance.
The Orchardist unfolds over decades and centers primarily on Talmadge
, a gentle loner who longs for a family, and three women: Caroline Middey, practical and motherly; Angelene, who represents hope for the future; and Della, a lost young woman who is angry and searching for herself.
If Della is less than sympathetic at times, it is Talmadge
who tugs at the heartstrings of the reader.
wishes to right the wrong in his
life (the unexplained disappearance of his
sister) by creating a family with Angelene, Caroline and Della -- but fate and a sense of inevitability stand in his
fought against the same force against which he
Fate, inevitability, luck.
would fly in the face of this force now, for her
could be freed from it, he
would free her
would make it all up to her
, now. - from The Orchardist, page 342 -