Review :: The Orchardist's Daughter :: Karen Viggers

April 12, 2019

I love to read books by local authors, so I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy of Karen Viggers' new novel, The Orchardists's Daughter, in the mail from Allen & Unwin.
Here's the plot summary from the Allen & Unwin website - read on below to find out what I thought.
 Sixteen-year-old Mikaela has grown up isolated and homeschooled on an apple orchard in southeastern Tasmania, until an unexpected event shatters her family. Eighteen months later, she and her older brother Kurt are running a small business in a timber town. Miki longs to make connections and spend more time in her beloved forest, but she is kept a virtual prisoner by Kurt, who leads a secret life of his own.

When Miki meets Leon, another outsider, things slowly begin to change. But the power to stand up for yourself must come from within. And Miki has to fight to uncover the truth of her past and discover her strength and spirit.

Set in the old-growth eucalypt forests and vast rugged mountains of southern Tasmania, The Orchardist's Daughter is an uplifting story about friendship, resilience and finding the courage to break free.

I really loved reading this one! The writing of the setting is so intimate that it feels almost like another character in the story, which made it a really immersive experience for me - I could really feel the places as I read.

I grew up in a small town community (town is probably a bit generous - we had a school and a footy club, but no shops!) so an authors treatment of country life can really make or break a story like this for me, and in this case I felt like it was beautifully done. There is a great balance of the different sides of living in a small community like this - we see both the way people can be suspicious and closed off to newcomers to the town and also how the community looks after and stands by/up for its members too. I felt like we met a good number of people living in the town, and seeing snippets of their lives in a way that hinted to more of each of their stories without revealing everything really gave it an authentic feeling.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of three different characters who are in very different situations but we come to see have more in common than they might all realise. One of the key themes explored throughout the book is bullying, and I really liked the way that some of the characters seemed to find it easier to recognise - and stand up to - mistreatment of others than what they are on the receiving end of themselves - again this was something that added authenticity for me.

The main narrative of the novel plays out against a rich backstory about the importance of the flora and fauna of our natural world. The tension of the need for conservation of our beautiful old growth forest in a community where many are working in logging is explored, as well the impact of humans encroaching on the habitat of some of our native animals. I felt like this was done beautifully in the book - it felt like a natural part of the story, rather than something added to make a point.

Overall I thought this was a lovely read, and I'm looking forward to reading Karen's other books soon!

Thanks again to Allen & Unwin for sending me a free copy to review!

xo Bron

*** The Orchardist's Daughter ***
Out Feb 2019 from Allen & Unwin
On Goodreads
Find Karen Viggers online here

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