- Save 10% on selected children’s books, compliments of Amazon Family Promotion exclusive for Prime members .
The orchard keeper
Special offers and product promotions
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Top customer reviews
Set in Tennessee, post Prohibition 20th Century.
Some beautiful passages but often uses overly complex or archaic word choices making it a slow read until you are used to the style.
Not as good as The Road or Blood Meridian.
The dialogue, humour, beauty, and brutality usually displayed in McCarthy's work is evident here. Not as dense or horrific as something like Blood Meridian but not the best McCarthy novel to start with either, I'd suggest All the Pretty Horses or No Country for Old Men.
There are themes and traits here that are found in McCarthy’s other work: vivid descriptions of the natural world (landscape, fauna, flora); a focus on the socially marginal; laconic and stoic men and their rural life-ways (hunting, trapping) and a corresponding absence of well-developed female characters; unconventional punctuation (though there’s more here than you’ll find in his later works, even a few semi-colons); and the realization of a world that has gone, depicted in a matter-of-fact manner.
The guiding spirit of the novel is undoubtedly William Faulkner, whose style and methods McCarthy has adopted unsparingly, from the structuring of the narrative (multiple points of view, jumps in time, pronoun usage that doesn’t always make clear who the narrative focus is) through a number of stylistic quirks to the use of one of Faulkner’s trademark words (‘effluvium’). Like Faulkner, McCarthy’s unfolding drama goes beyond plot and character to give the reader a sense of socio-economic context, here a society and way of life on the cusp of change during New Deal-era America. And as with Faulkner’s work, the novel repays an immediate re-reading. Rather than follow Faulkner in all areas, however, McCarthy employs shorter, sometimes honed and declarative sentences rather than Faulkner’s labyrinthine structures, a feature that McCarthy has developed in later writings. The end result is neither pastiche nor pale copy: this is a fully realized work in its own terms, and a very fine novel indeed.
The mainly short scenes shift backwards and forwards in time so that it is often hard to work out who the subjects are, what is happening and why. McCarthy has a gift for creating tension: when the bootlegger Sylder is driving an unwelcome hitch-hiker back to Knoxville you know that it will end in violence. But for the most part the plot is thin, and the author seems mainly interested in describing in minute detail incidents of daily life which he must have observed - the sensation of driving along roads "ferruling through dark forests of owl trees, bat caverns, witch covens"; a boy laying his first traps; an old man's relationship with his dog. On a more dramatic note are the memorable descriptions of the balcony of the Green Fly Inn cracking under the weight of drinkers to crash into the canyon below, or later the old man under gun attack in his shack, for reasons yet to be revealed to the rearder.
The story is very male-dominated - focus on sleazy bars, hunting, seeking vengeance through violence, plus the at times corny rapport between tough men and the young boys they teach to track coons with dogs, and seek to guide with homely wisdom.
Some initial scenes of the sex-or-is-it-rape-in-a-church variety were so distasteful to me that I nearly gave up, but I am glad that I persevered. This book requires the investment of time, the rereading of some of the more original poetic passages, the suspension of any expectations. I came to understand that what happens to the petty criminal Sylder, the boy, John Wesley, who unbeknown to both of them is the son of the man he was forced to kill, and the ancient recluse Alan Ownby who happens to observe some of Sylder's activities, matters less than the power of nature around them.
In short, I would recommend this not for the plot, but as an exercise in astonishing writing.