04 October 2011

Review of chilling and heartbreaking environmental memoir 'The Orchard'

When I first picked up Theresa Weir’s newest book, The Orchard, I thought I was in for the traditional memoir experience. It is after all, my favorite genre, and one not that many people have been able to master as artfully as Weir. I was prepared for the subtly veiled, yet almost voyeuristic glimpse into the author’s most private thoughts and memories. I mean this is why we love memoir, right? And although Weir exposes enough of her personal life to quench even my insatiable appetite, The Orchard is as much about her life, as it is the lives of those affected by the heavy weight of familial responsibility, and the sometimes devastating consequences of expectation.

Weir is an artist. She blends form and composition with language and vivid, visceral imagery. Her tone is pitch-perfect, her pace measured and sure, so much so that by the time you realize she is educating us about the disarming realities of pesticides you are already in love with her, her husband, and their quaint fairytale cottage that sits lovely, in the middle of an orchard that held the promise of forever.

It is not to be missed.

About the book: The Orchard is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian Curtis, the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, young Theresa finds life with Adrian on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected. Rejected by her husband's family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew and the land that has been in his family for generations. She becomes a reluctant player in their attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard, but she and Adrian eventually come to know that their efforts will not only fail but will ultimately take an irreparable toll.

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit: Barnes&Noble