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At the Edge of the Orchard

Written by: Tracy Chevalier
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“With impeccable research and flawless prose, Chevalier perfectly conjures the grandeur of the pristine Wild West...and the everyday adventurers - male and female - who were bold enough or foolish enough to be drawn to the unknown. She crafts for us an excellent experience.” (USA Today)

From internationally best-selling author Tracy Chevalier, author of A Single Thread, comes a riveting drama of a pioneer family on the American frontier. 

It's 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck - in the muddy, stagnant swamps of Northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the 50 apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut, while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life. 

It's 1853. Their youngest child, Robert, is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves, he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert's past makes an unexpected appearance, he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last. 

Chevalier tells a fierce, beautifully crafted story in At the Edge of the Orchard, her most graceful and richly imagined work yet. 

©2016 Tracy Chevalier (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"A rich, well-researched novel - it's the story of one young woman becoming an American." (NPR, All Things Considered)

"Well-told and engrossing.... With compelling characters and swift pacing, 'The Last Runaway' adds a worthy new chapter to a story that has consumed generations." (USA Today)

"Irresistible." (O, The Oprah Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • TC
  • 2017-02-03

It's Good Enough

My goodness, but don't the Goodenough's put the fun in dysfunctional? The death of the parents (no spoilers, don't worry) was the most horrific/funny scene I've encountered in a good long while. The human characters portray the bleak slog that is life, the hopelessness that life can become, and the redemption that life offers, and they do all this in the most morose, downtrodden circumstances. The other characters are the flora and fauna; the apples, especially the Golden Pippen, the apple trees, the California sequoia, the seeds. This story of struggle and ultimate redemption left me unsettled. Even Robert, who ultimately finds his way out of the dark abyss of life, is a broken soul. There are no sympathetic characters here, no one to root for, except maybe the spindly Golden Pippen trees struggling for survival in the wilderness.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • cheryl retired bookseller
  • 2017-05-30

The performance was superb

I listened to this as I worked in my garden. What a perfect match of book to task. I even learned new lessons. This book was well worth my time and I will have fond memories of our time together.

1 person found this helpful

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  • sonya
  • 2016-03-17

Loved it!

I enjoyed this book!! The narration was great. Story left me wanting more. I found myself disliking sadie. and feeling sorry for the husband and Martha. Really great read.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 2016-03-23

On the edge....

I thought this book was just a little slow in the beginning but WOW. I could hardly stop listening when I had to work. I am looking forward to more books by this author.

2 people found this helpful

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  • pty
  • 2019-07-29

Delightful, engaging, and a heartfelt read!

Delightful, engaging, and a heartfelt read! Be sure to let yourself get past the initial twang if it isn't quite music to your ears. (I had to check the author to make sure it, indeed, was Tracy Chevalier) It is absolutely needed and perfect for the story. I thank my sister for recommending the book and know others will be glad for the story.

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  • L. Mattson
  • 2018-12-31

depressing

the story was well written to be sure, bit very depressing. one tragedy after another

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-11-28

review

The book is full of misery . I am glad that the ending had some hope attached to it.

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  • Sterling 555
  • 2017-05-06

Riveting

This was an entire audio production rather than just a narration. I love the slow tempo of the readers. It matched the setting and the time period.

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  • A
  • 2017-01-19

Stick with it. Your patience will be rewarded.

Story transitions from unsympathetic parents to children for whom you will smile and cry. Heartwarming and epic tale of America going west.

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  • Lisa
  • 2016-12-03

i was engaged right at the start.

great stories with characters you got to know. cheered for some, cried for some, all in all i enjoyed it.