Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Orchard

By Jeffrey Stepakoff

From the back of the book:

Grace Lyndon is a rising ingénue in the world of perfumes and flavors; a stiletto-wearing, work-a-holic in Atlanta, she develops aromas and tastes to enthrall the senses. Dylan Jackson is a widowed single father whose heart and hands have been calloused in the fields of his North Georgia apple farm. When Grace happens to taste an apple picked from Dylan’s trees, it changes both their lives forever.

Just my opinion:

This is a story about two people who have no interest in relationships. Grace is heavily embedded in her work and after a failed engagement, she wants nothing more than to advance in her career. Dylan is a fairly recent widower and his priority is to raise his young daughter while he maintains his farm. As fate would have it, they meet for business purposes and find themselves attracted to each other. Dylan’s daughter also takes an instant liking to Grace, compounding the situation as they are determined not to become involved on a personal level.

It’s rare that a romantic novel written by a man comes off as realistic from the woman’s side of the story. Jeffrey Stepakoff does a wonderful job of portraying each of the characters in this story, including Grace. She’s somewhat detached from others, which is of her own choosing. However, the author shows the reader a side of her the other characters have to work harder to see.

Dylan, on the other hand, is more open toward others and really is every woman’s dream man. But he still holds such intense feelings for his deceased wife and can only imagine himself with someone just like her. He’s simply not ready to give her up. That often makes it difficult for his daughter as she wants nothing more than to have a mother and in her eyes, Grace fits that bill.

A book that is very pleasant to read and moves along at a relaxing pace, this is a great summer read and one that could potentially be a good choice for book groups.
Some favorite passages from the book:

Everything in a person’s life came down to a few red-letter days.

The old Victorian house sat right in the middle of the mountain orchard. As the night breezes blew up from the valley below, the sea of moonlit trees, weighted with their ripe apples, cast spidery shadows across the wide wraparound front porch.

He missed her so badly on nights like this that he felt the hurt in his gut like it was filled with hot lead. It was a pain he’d come to know quite well, and it could bring forth the deepest cries of human anguish, contractions of great sorrow that could double over the strongest of men.

Human beings are composites of their wants and desires, but only unsatisfied needs truly influence behavior.

This was not a man who would build bridges or construct skyscrapers or have monuments like the one she saw in the Ellijay city square named for him, but he had put his heart and his soul and his sweat into this place, tending to this orchard, and that would be his legacy.

“People tell me I’m obsessive about my work.” “Are you?” “I don’t know. I’m too busy working to think about it.”

Smell is our strongest and really most unappreciated sense. It’s hardwired to everything we experience throughout our lives, and it stays in our brains, like a record locator. A good fragrance is really a powerful cocktail of memories and emotion.

No comments: