Towards the end of The Orchardist, Coplin pulls back to comment on the events so far. She suggests that feelings are both undervalued and, ultimately, the thing that matters, writing: “There were others who… kept their cool while reading the feverish emotional accounts in the newspapers…These people were amazed by how much print was devoted to, and ultimately wasted on, the feelings of the people involved. As if feelings finally made any difference at all.”
Well, I like a good feelings-fest as much as the next guy, but by the time I finished reading, I agreed with “these people” more than with Coplin.
In this novel, some troubled folks battle their woes through isolated physical labor among the West Coast’s fruit orchards. Meanwhile, not much plot happens, and there’s barely any dialogue. None of her characters are particularly emotionally intelligent. They spend a lot of time having undefinable hollownesses, longings, and anger that they can’t articulate and don’t fully understand. I got tired wading through the trials of characters I pitied, but didn’t especially like.
The writing itself is strong, with lovely descriptive moments, both character and landscape. Although I wearied of the emotional haze, Coplin does it well, with evocative imagery and a comfortable rhythm. There just wasn’t enough oomph for me.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2014.
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