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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 September 2013
For someone to write so beautifully about pain, both physical and emotional, is quite something. I'm therefore astonished at the lack of reviews for this wonderful little book. It can be read in around 1.5 hours but is worth so much more than the asking price; there is much wisdom contained in its pages.

I don't read love stories as a rule but I'm so glad I read this and will certainly read it again, sooner rather than later. It's a dark and brooding tale but the prose is simply sumptuous and I found everything about the story and characters entirely believable. People and places formed effortlessly, and I was moved to tears by the protagonist's plight. I haven't admired or been inspired by a character as much for a while.

Put simply, I can't fault this book at all.

Five Super-Shiny Gold Stars!
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on 14 February 2012
This novel, set in Pakistan, recounts in short, beautifully written chapters, the reflections on his life (past and possible future) of the narrator who is released from prison after many years of ill treatment and torture - his young love, the sense of which has helped him keep going over the years, and his care from a schoolteacher and his young daughter who have taken him in and help him on his way back to life on his release, and his treatment during his 15 years in prison.

This is an altogether impressive achievement, utterly convincing, and I would recommend it very strongly.
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on 20 March 2012
This novel is a masterclass in how to write beautifully and with power. I bought it after reading Hobbs' earlier and excellent novel A Short Day Dying. Like that one, In the Orchard is gentle and elegiac, but the subject matter is darker and more compelling. It's a book about small spaces, about a town so small that one stolen kiss can destroy a man, about what turns a prison cell and orchard into a place of refuge. It is a short read and a book to savour. I can't recommend it too highly.
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on 10 October 2013
I don't understand why this book has so few reviews! It's a beautiful, heart-rending piece of writing. It's poetic and powerful and deserves to be better known. I've got it off my shelf to re-read after hearing Peter Hobbs on the BBC Short Story Comp recently. I practically never re-read books, but I am looking forward to reading this one again. It's suffused with the perfume of pomegranate, love and loss, and how landscape affects us and creates us (I love that!). The symbol of the swallows made me want to weep. Although it deals with tough subjects it's far from being a depressing read. I can only describe it as a book that will leave you feeling as though you have been on a long, long journey, like a pilgrimage that leaves you strangely and unexpectedly cleansed and calm.
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on 19 November 2014
Powerful story told in the aftermath of years of senseless evil unleashed on innocence, and the mind of the man who emerges from the spiritually and physically tortured child.

I devoured this slim book in one sitting, compelled on by the shatteringly simple and evocative narrative. It isn't hard to believe that what happened to our protagonist goes on everyday in many places in the world. The description of the prison cell prompted the thought: if you build a place of evil, then evil is what will come from those who hold power there. How is it even humanly possible to survive such prolonged deprivation and abuse, such extreme ugliness? Yet we know there are those who do. The essential quotes in this story are without end so I'll restrict myself to one more: 'Sometimes I wonder if terrible experiences are enough to change a person—fundamentally change their nature—or if they merely subdue it, and it endures there beneath, and will reassert itself in time.'

This story about the human condition works in part because it's kept short. Had the author been tempted to drag it out to hundreds of pages, it could have been an unmitigated failure. Instead it soars. For, despite the tragedy revealed, there's a potent imagery to the minimalist narrative that makes it almost fable-like. Like other reviewers, I'm astonished it has so few reviews here.
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on 16 July 2014
Quite simply one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Hobbs manages to say so much with so little, the sheer misery of his time in prison is beautifully told, the atmosphere comes straight through, lighting up my imagination and appreciation for fine writing. A fine book indeed.
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on 9 March 2013
Although this is a very short book and written in simple language, it is not necessarily an easy read. The subject matter is dark and difficult. The book redeems itself, however, by telling the eternal story of human decency prevailing, and human nature being more resilient than any cruelty that may be inflicted. It is a story of hope. Sadly, too many real stories offer no such hope, and that is even more difficult to forget after reading this book.
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on 10 October 2013
I don't understand why this book has so few reviews! It's a beautiful, heart-rending piece of writing. It's poetic and powerful and deserves to be better known. I've got it off my shelf to re-read after hearing Peter Hobbs on the BBC Short Story Comp recently. I practically never re-read books, but I am looking forward to reading this one again. It's suffused with the perfume of pomegranate, love and loss, and how landscape affects us and creates us (I love that!). The symbol of the swallows made me want to weep. Although it deals with tough subjects it's far from being a depressing read. I can only describe it as a book that will leave you feeling as though you have been on a long, long journey, like a pilgrimage that leaves you strangely and unexpectedly cleansed and calm.
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on 6 April 2014
Beautifully written to make the reader feel they are right there in the orchard. The tempo of the narration seems to take you at a slow and peaceful pace that captures your interest as well as experiencing different yet real emotions.
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on 17 March 2016
A haunting elegiac story set in a corrupt Pakistan. The writing is sensual and depicts a lamenting loss for many things all symbolised by the neglected orchard where pomegranates hang ripe and unattended. A lost Eden. Despite the contrasting shocking brutality of imprisonment the book is full of beauty and light where swallows wheel.
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