Just to prove I don’t just read fantasy, here is a book completely rooted in the real world. It’s a fascinating read. It’s a memoir, a love story, a scream at the state of modern farming, and it’s about apples.
I have an orchard myself. A small, domestic orchard, unsprayed, hand pruned, full of old, local varieties. I’ve read quite a few books about orchards, but they’ve all been English orchards, and the books have all been about connecting with a traditional way of life. The orchard is a romantic place, full of romantic people doing romantic things with apples.
This is a completely different book. A girl with a car crash life meets a boy with a messed up back story, and they fall in love. They move into a shack on his parents’ farm. They are both emotionally abused by their parents – he’s held too tightly, she’s pushed away – but somehow they work together. Anne Frasier uses flashbacks to tell the story of her childhood and adolescence. She shows us a world of rural poverty, where farmers put themselves and their families at risk to keep their farms going, because the farm is the most important thing of all. There’s a cloud of pesticide floating through this book, permeating the pages the way it permeates everything on the farm. The thing that keeps the farm alive creates the tragedy that is killing the farm.
It’s one of those books that makes you feel you can relax back. Not that it’s an easy subject, it’s more that Anne Frasier’s writing style makes you feel you are in a safe pair of hands. Whatever happens, her writing is going to carry you through in utter belief that this is real. Nothing is going to jar and break the spell.