Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Orchard - Theresa Weir

I have always been a huge fan of memoirs.  And true crime.  It makes such an impact on me to know that these stories are true.  I can obsess a little, look up pictures on the Internet, and know that real life can be stranger than fiction.  


I'd heard many things about this memoir.  I knew it was a cautionary tale about pesticides.  And I knew I needed to read it at home with tissues at the ready.  I was in a bit of a reading slump when I received it from the library, and I picked it up knowing it would fix me.  


Synopsis:  Theresa was a young and wayward girl, working in her uncle's bar, when she met the handsome apple farmer Adrian.  Swept away by a whirlwind romance, Theresa ignored warnings from the locals that Adrian's family was cursed and married him.  She began doubting the wisdom of her decision soon after the wedding however.  She was completely rejected by Adrian's family, and she rarely saw her husband because of his long hours in the field.


But Theresa is nothing if not a fighter, a survivor.  She learns to cook, helps Adrian in the field, learns to love her husband on a deeper level, bears two children, and eventually begins to write novels to prove to herself that she is of some worth.  She also learns about the destructive toll of pesticides on the land and on humans, a force that she and Adrian are unable to conquer, no matter their awareness or determination.


My thoughts:  At a time when I barely had ten minutes to sit and relax, I still was able to read this book in less than 24 hours.  Granted, it is only 240 pages, but is written in such easy, compelling prose, it is impossible to put down.  Theresa's words sound like she is talking to you over a coffee.  Also driving me towards the last page was knowing that this story was not going to have a happy ending. 


I realize this sounds dreary.  And the story WILL make you cry.  But it is also so tender, this husband and wife who went from virtual strangers to soul mates.  Often you see farm life romanticized, but Theresa gives it to us straight.  There is nothing easy about the long hours of manual labor, and the total reliance on the Russian Roulette of weather and disease for your livelihood.  That was my dad's reality. 


Theresa's tale is also one filled with warnings and lessons about pesticides of which we should all be aware.  For 8 or 9 years, my family has been as organic-supportive as we possibly can be, particularly with milk, meat and thin-skinned fruits and vegetables.  This book just solidified the whole business for me.  I won't need to be reminded after reading this touching, memorable little story.


5 out of 5 stars   





22 comments:

caite said...

I am no a huge fan of memoirs, but still this sounds interesting. Even if I already know there is little romantic about farming.

bermudaonion said...

We must be reading twins! I loved this book too - it made me more aware of the danger of pesticides.

Jenny said...

I hadn't really been interested in reading this before but it sounds great. Pesticides are scary!!

Beth F said...

I've been meaning to read this but was afraid there'd be nothing very new for me it. Still, I need to give it a try.

Anita said...

I've been looking at this one and now your review will move it up on my lists. Thanks Sandy

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I am a big believer in organically produced items. This book sounds like a nice change of pace for me, and I could use a good reading cry every now and again. Will check it out! Especially if you rated it 5 out of 5? I'm all over that and excited to get a copy.

Zibilee said...

I just finished this one, and like you, I read it in a very short amount of time. It was such a compelling story, and Weir has a way of just pulling you into it with the way she writes. So very sad, and that MIL was just awful!

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I don't read a lot of memoirs, but this one sounds fantastic! I'll be sure to add it to my wishlist.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

So glad you liked this! I just loved it. She has a new book out now that is apparently a sort of prequel to this one.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I have this one and have yet to read it. I knew it would be good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Jackie Bailey said...

I have to admit that I can't see how a book about pesticides can be that compelling - you've intrigued me. I obviously don't know enough about this subject.

Melody said...

Will have to check this out!

Julie P. said...

I've heard nothing but wonderful things about this memoir. I need to find the time to read it.

Trisha said...

I realize there's much more to this than what I focused on in this review: the weather. The ever-changing, never-quite-right, always complained about, ever obsessed over, freaking weather. I married a farmer. :)

Jenners said...

Excellent review. It sounds like this book resonated with you on a very personal level.

JoAnn said...

Adding to my list! Love the cover, too.

Anna said...

I'm really picky with memoirs but this one sounds fantastic, even though I'm sure it would make me cry, too.

sarah pekkanen said...

Sounds fantastic! But did she make you puke? Hmmmm?

Amy said...

I like that this book is a story about a woman and her marriage as wellas a story about farming and the issue of pesticides.

It makes me sad that things don't work out for this couple. The author sounds like a strong, resilient and smart, caring woman, too.

Your review is terrific, Sandy and I completely trust your thougts on this book.

The Bumbles said...

I just love your phrase that you knew this book could fix you. I may create a post around that expression...

Melissa said...

While I know nothing of apples there is a kinship with all sections of agriculture. Unless you've been there, you just don't understand being at the mercy of the weather and other uncontrollable elements.

Kathleen said...

Sounds like one I need to add to my list.