This is my book review of “Orchard House – How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow” By Tara Austen Weaver
I feel privileged to have read this beautifully and lyrically written book.
But first, let me show you the book blurb
Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver
Category: Garden/Food Memoir
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Avail. March 31, 2015)
For fans of Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving memoir of rediscovering, reinventing, and reconnecting, as an estranged mother and daughter come together to revive a long-abandoned garden and ultimately their relationship and themselves.
Peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara Austen Weaver can’t get the Seattle real estate listing out of her head. Any sane person would have seen the abandoned property for what it was: a ramshackle half-acre filled with dead grass, blackberry vines, and trouble. But Tara sees potential and promise—not only for the edible bounty the garden could yield for her family, but for the personal renewal she and her mother might reap along the way.
So begins Orchard House, a story of rehabilitation and cultivation—of land and soul. Through bleak winters, springs that sputter with rain and cold, golden days of summer, and autumns full of apples, pears, and pumpkins, this evocative memoir recounts the Weavers’ trials and triumphs, detailing what grew and what didn’t, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned. Inexorably, as mother and daughter tend this wild patch and the fruits of their labor begin to flourish, green shoots of hope emerge from the darkness of their past.
For everyone who has ever planted something that they wished would survive—or tried to mend something that seemed forever broken—Orchard House is a tale of healing and growth set in a most unlikely place.
My Book Review
I really couldn’t put it much better than that, so instead, let me talk about what I loved about the book.
To bury grief, plant a seed. – German proverb
This inspiring book starts with this apt quote that summarizes it!
I loved that it is a mother-daughter story – I am so partial to those.
The story evolves in a way that implies families are pretty much like gardens – a lot of work – work that is very much worth the effort as we enjoy the fruit of our labor.
Lyrically descriptive, Orchard House is absolutely enchanting. Reading it took me to a magical place, a place warm with sunshine and nature’s bounty and my own memories of our family garden that my great grandmother and grandmother lovingly nurtured and shared with the entire neighborhood.
Orchard House is a very touching and heart-warming memoir where reviving and tending a wild garden mends a broken family.
The book begins with a description of the property listing in which Tara sees a lot of potential, its current state notwithstanding. Although her mother struggled to raise her brother and her alone, the author has happy memories of her own growing up years in the country in a house with a flourishing garden, before they moved back to the city. Now they all live in different cities and Tara’s brother lives in Seattle with his family.
Once again, at 72, Tara’s mother wants to move, this time to a house with a garden. Getting the garden and the house back in shape appears an impossible task but it seems like the perfect way for the family to get together again.
Will their decision to let go of a comfortable and well settled life be a wise one? Will it affect the harmonious relationship they share with each other?
I love how the book begins with a glorious description of the property that Tara explores, and how she and her mother sneak into it to pick the blackberries because her mother does not like to waste food.
The book is about their experience with bringing Orchard House back to life, the time they lovingly invest in it, the treasures they unearth and Tara’s mother’s adventures. There are heartaches and joyful moments where the family learns to accept each other’s faults and love one another again as they grow closer. It is a tough journey but one that eventually brings happiness.
Orchard House is a brilliant memoir, raw in places, openly honest and touching. What an inspiring story that proves that anything is possible and when it comes to reconnecting as a family, every effort is worth it. It is all about growth and not just the garden, but relationships.
Orchard House, releasing on March 31, 2015 – today – is a must-read!
Links to buy:
How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
By Tara Austen Weaver
Ballantine Books Hardcover| 9780345548092 | March 31, 2015 | 304 pages
Tara Austen Weaver is the author of the memoir The Butcher and the Vegetarian, and also writes the award-winning blog Tea & Cookies. Her writing on food, travel, culture, and the environment has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine, and on Chow.com. Weaver is a master gardener and certified permaculture designer. She lives and grows things in Seattle, where she is the editor of Edible Seattle
Connect with Tara Weaver:
Giveaway – Yay!
And now, if you are a US resident, I have great news for you.
I am happy to announce a book giveaway. The publisher – Random House – has generously offered 2 hard copies of Orchard House (US Mailing addresses only) to two lucky readers of this blog!
Do comment and let me know your interest (and where you live) – one thing I promise you – you’ll love the book!