Ohio, 1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. As fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts.
Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through gold rush California. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past, and one day Robert is forced to confront the brutal reason he left behind everything he loved.
©2016 Tracy Chevalier (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd
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"Great experience and so well written"
I enjoyed the earthy simplicity and untold toils of the family. The focus on nature was a wonderful escape from our fast paced world.
"Another brilliant book by Tracey Chevalier"
I enjoyed listening to the story about a family while learning about a period in history and a subject I've never even thought about really-who knew apple growing could be so interesting? Tracey Chevalier has a way of entwining a human story with history that brings her books to life.
no, but I liked her narration.
Yes,definitely. Sadie, the mother, is very unlikeable as is the Father. Robert's story is amazing and Martha's life made me want to cry, she was so badly treated by her mother and had a terrible childhood. The family had such a tough life which you can imagine is very true of many families at that time.
Wonderful book, highly recommended, I'm working through the rest of Tracey's books and look forward to her next one.
"Another fantastic novel from Tracy Chevalier"
A wonderfully written novel. It was a pleasure to listen to. I wonder if there will be a sequel?
"Good story about trees apples and American family values"
I liked the meandering plot, the contrasting characters and the right amount of detail to keep the readers interest.
"Sadly not the author's best (for me)"
I loved The Last Chevalier and enjoyed Remarkable Creatures, but sadly this novel didn't live up to expectations. The story follows a woman living with her family in the black swamp and the difficulties they have trying to make a living on the farm. There is a lot of info about the orchard and apples. The wife is an odd person who wishes they lived elsewhere and has a difficult relationship with her husband.
It then switches to the son's story - after he has left the black swamp - told through letters and up to a point where we switch back in time to find the reason he left. There's a lot of info here about trees as he finds his way in the world and his joy in nature.
Unfortunately I found this structure disjointed and I didn't much like any of the characters. From the book blurb I thought the book would be about the journey to the swamp but it wasn't. There were moments that should have touched me emotionally but I felt removed from them because of the writing style.
On the plus side, the narration was great, with lots of voices to help differentiate characters. This made it an easy listen. I don't think I would've continued to listen if the narration hadn't been as good. It's not a terrible book, just rather slow and dull with unlikeable characters. I was just disappointed after liking the author's previous novels so much.
"Pioneer Spirit Made Personal"
I have read many books about the push to the West in America in the 19th Century. But this personal story brings the big picture down to the family level. It portrays the drive to move west to clear new ground and build a settled life from the perspective of one family who start in Ohio growing apples and other crops. It brings to life also the stories of plant hunters in California collecting seeds and seedlings to send back to Britain, where we see them grown to giants in some of our stately home parks. But this is mainly a story about a family and its relationships over one generation. I think it is one of Tracy Chevalier's best books, and I love all the others.
"gets better at about half way through!"
I liked the development of Robert's character. At the beginning it was so grim, I found it depressing
A good and realistic ending
accent seemed realistic and good intonation
The thing about Tracy Chevalier is that she can take a completely random subject, such as the growing of trees and particularly apples, and weave around it a truly magical story. The result is not only an education but a feeling of 'Wholeness' that will stay with me for days alongside the glow of a beautiful novel.
I'm glad I listened to this book rather than read it as Liza Ross added greatly to the storytelling with all the beautiful accents she brought along. I have read quite a few of this authors books now and have enjoyed them all to varying degrees. But this, and the Last Runaway are by far my favourites....up to now anyway!
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