The Orchard: A Memoir

The Orchard: A Memoir

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by Adele Robertson
     
 

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The Orchard is an exquisitely beautiful and poignant memoir of a young woman's single-handed struggle to save her New England farm in the depths of the Great Depression. Recently discovered by the author's daughter, it tells the story of Adele "Kitty" Robertson, young and energetic, but unprepared by her Radcliffe education for the rigors of apple

Overview

The Orchard is an exquisitely beautiful and poignant memoir of a young woman's single-handed struggle to save her New England farm in the depths of the Great Depression. Recently discovered by the author's daughter, it tells the story of Adele "Kitty" Robertson, young and energetic, but unprepared by her Radcliffe education for the rigors of apple farming in those bitter times. Alone at the end of a country road, with only a Great Dane for company, plagued by debts, broken machinery, and killing frosts, Kitty revives the old orchard after years of neglect. Every day is a struggle, but every day she is also rewarded by the beauty of the world and the unexpected kindness of neighbors and hired workers.

Animated by quiet courage and simple goodness, The Orchard stands as a deeply moving celebration of decency and beauty in the midst of grim prospects and crushing poverty.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After the death of her father in the spring of 1932, Radcliffe graduate Adele Crockett left her city job to save the family apple orchard in Ipswich, Mass. She had to cope with a mountain of debt, aging machinery and the vagaries of weather-all without encouragement from her mother and brothers. Later, she wrote in rich detail about her farming years in the depths of the Depression. Her manuscript was discovered soon after her death by her daughter, Betsy Cramer, who contributes the introduction and epilogue. It is a charming memoir that evokes the despair and hope of that era. We see the doughty Adele and her French-Canadian workers feverishly picking apples in darkness to beat a hurricane; we share her nervousness when she attempts to find a market. An unusually cold winter that froze most of the crop spelled the end of Adele's valiant struggle. Photos not seen by PW. 25,000 first printing. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Robertson, a Radcliffe graduate, left a comfortable life in Boston during the Depression to grow apples in the family orchard near Ipswich, Massachusetts, from 1932 to 1934. This remarkable woman survived near poverty; cold winters; faulty plumbing; frozen pipes; the specter of unsold, spoiled apples; and harassment from the local bank. She describes her experiences learning how to operate and repair a tractor, digging a well, packing and storing apples, and other tasks involved in running a successful orchard. The loyal workers who helped her run the farm and the university purchasing agent who bought her apples and introduced her to new clients helped make her lot bearable. In the epilog, written by her daughter, we learn that although the farm was later sold, Robertson continued to live in the house, married, and became active in the community as a shop steward, local radio reporter, historian, and journalist and did a stint in office as a selectwoman. This absorbing tale is recommended for all collections focusing on the contributions of women or American agriculture.Irwin Weintraub, Rutgers Univ. Libs., Piscataway, N.J.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553378597
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
539,590
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.57(d)

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The Orchard 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every fall I pick this book up and jump into the wonderfully written life of Adele Robertson. I love this story so much that I bought copies to share with my friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Adele Robertson's memoirs are a gritty but ultimately inspirational story. The young Radcliffe graduate took over the family's apple orchard upon the death of her father during the depth of the 1930's Depression. The writing is strong and clear, as befits a woman who went on to become one of New England's pioneering journalists and columnists. Should be read by anyone who thinks strong, independent women are only a recent phenomenon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Orchard, a Memoir, is a great book. Last week I was on a long flight back to San Luis Obispo, CA, from Omaha and I had this book with me, a gift from my mom. I started reading it and totally forgot about the flight, never noticed the movie they were playing. A good number of times tears were just pouring down my face and I'd wipe them away, wondering if the people on the plane around me thought I was a bit crazy. But I tell you, I'm crazy about this book! Honestly, I read a good deal and this is easily one of the most interesting, deepest, most powerful books I have read in years. Although true, a memoir, it reads just like a fine novel. I was so totally absorbed reading this rare gem of a find, that it was difficult to realize that the author had died some 20 years ago--she, Adele Crockett Robertson, seems so real, so full of life, so gutsy, so immediate. Briefly, this is the story of a young girl, a smart, educated girl with a good head on her shoulders, who loses her job in the great Depression, and goes back to the family farm to try and save it from the bank. The many people in the book all come to life perfectly and there are surprises aplenty. I am a gardenwriter (author of Allergy-Free Gardening)and have farmed myself, and I appreciate what Adele went through. I would also add that this is no doubt the best picture of life during the Depression I've ever come across. I plan to review this book every place that I can, because to my mind, this one is so good, so readable, so well worth reading, so enjoyable, so satisfying, that it completely deserves to be a best seller. Do yourself a favor and read this marvelous book!