The Orchard Lover
Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)
Alden Forth was raised to believe she could never have true love. So each year, when the peaches ripen on her farm, she takes a lover, only to let him go after a few short weeks. That is until the summer she finds her simple way of life threatened as her grandfather, her last surviving relative, descends into dementia. The arrival of a revivalist minister further upsets the balance in Alden’s rural hometown, for the minister’s vehemence to save souls has no bounds. Quickly the town’s carefully constructed boundaries begin to crumble, turning neighbor against neighbor, sibling against sibling. In the end, Alden must face the truth about her grandfather’s disease and the damning accusations of the minister and decide whether love is the thing that will save her or if it will destroy the only life she’s ever known.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10
Plot: The author weaves together the lives of multiple characters in this clear and tightly plotted novel. Each page reveals layered secrets that will keep readers turning pages.
Prose: McCausland's delicate prose is poetic and deftly written. The many characters' voices shine through.
Originality: Although the themes in McCausland's story will feel somewhat familiar, her treatment of each character and the entire community brings a freshness that readers will appreciate.
Character Development: The characters here are well developed and memorable. Even secondary characters have detailed backgrounds and feel real and vivid.
Date Submitted: June 04, 2018
McCausland’s lush novel draws readers into a Maryland town as the locals live through the Great Depression. Alden Forth has only her aging grandfather Reginald to help her tend their peach orchard on the Forth Farm, and Reginald is developing an illness that leaves him confused and forgetful. At 35 years old, the independent, hardworking Alden has never married—she believes her family is cursed in love—but she takes summer lovers among the itinerant workers who pass through, adding “corners and curves that created a pleasurable circle” in her life. The simplicity of her world is tested when revivalist preacher Reverend Beale arrives, attempting to draw people to his tent meetings through malignant manipulation of the townspeople’s secrets after he tricks them into confiding in him, thus invading the privacy of Alden and her neighbors, including the wealthy, harsh Robert Scott and two of his daughters, Anna and Jane. Anna’s physical beauty is marred by a caustic meanness toward her father and sister, and she works with Beale to overturn Jane’s quiet life, which soon spreads the conflicts throughout the entire town. This is an excellent story of personalities that tumble and clash. (BookLife)