Amanda Coplin's debut novel is bound to be a classic. It is beautiful look into the character of a man who has been through much, who is quiet and reserved, yet sacrifices all he has for others.
Talmadge has lived in this solitary land at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains since he was 9 years old. His mother dies when his is 13. His sister mysteriously disappears when he is 18. Talmadge is tied to this land, nostalgic for his childhood.
Now 40 years later, Talmadge's orchard has grown substantially. His pride in his trees, and care for them provides fruit that is outstanding. He weekly takes his good to town to market, visiting with friend Caroline while there.
One day he sees 2 young girls; hungry, dirty, and unknown in these parts. They are visibly pregnant though they may not even be in their teens yet. He desires to help these two skittish creatures, and does so in the least invasive way by leaving food out for them, providing blankets and even having Caroline check in on their pregnancies. They stay in his orchard, or on his vast land, never speaking to him or asking for anything.
Very frightened they continue to be skittish and distant until Jane gives birth and younger sister Della miscarries. Jane's daughter is named Angelene, and is left by Jane to be raised by Talmadge. Jane isn't mentally able to care for her daughter, and continues to live in fear of her past.
The only family Talmadge has, though not of his blood, he seeks to protect and care for them the best he can. Haunted by the loss of his own sister, he can not give up on the girls. Angelene grows up in the orchard, caring for her own trees and learns the business of growing fruit. As Talmadge gets older, Angelene takes on much of the responsibility of the orchard.
Talmadge realizing he is not in the best health, and continuing to worsen, seeks to find Della who has left many years prior, now on her own. Talmadge does all he can to ensure that Della and Angelene are cared for when he is not longer with them, and feels for them the love as if they were his family meant to be.
Very touching story about a solitary man who looks beyond himself to reach out to 2 young girls trapped in a horrible life. Talmadge may seem like just an ordinary farmer, orchardist, but he is sincere, mature and determined.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.