Praise for The Orchard
The Orchard is a lovely book in all the ways that really matter, one of those rare and wonderful memoirs in which people you’ve never met become your friends. I read it in a single sitting, lost in the story, and by the time I put it down, I was amazed by Weir’s ability to evoke such genuine emotion. Read it: you’ll be glad you did.
A hypnotic tale of place, people, and of Midwestern family roots that run deep, stubbornly hidden, and equally menacing—THE ORCHARD is sublime and enchanting, like a reflecting pool, touch the surface and watch the ripples carry you away.
–Jamie Ford, NYT bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
There is an old Roberta Flack song from the 70s, which perfectly describes the intense, powerful reaction we all have to transcendental art. With her words, “killing me softly with his song, telling my life with his words, strumming my pain with his fingers,” Flack described with perfection the experience of art transcending the ordinary. With her memoir, The Orchard, Theresa Weir has created such a transcendental work of art. The Orchard begins in the mid-70s, Weir, in her early twenties, is struggling with the hard work of becoming her own person and taking her place in this world. Then one day, a beautiful young farmer comes into the rural Illinois bar where she worked. Their romance leads to a hasty marriage. But Weir does not tell us a fairy tale romance. Her love story is told without sentimentally, respecting the deep mystery of love shared by two strangers. She moves to the farmer’s orchard, where perfection is sought at too high a cost. This memoir deals with powerful universal themes regarding mothers, abandonment, dark secrets, poison, love, death, and life. Like the singer in Flack’s song, Weir’s words will resonate with the reader, because in telling her life story, she tells us about our lives.
Phyllis Lamken, owner of Dark Horse Books
With The Orchard, Theresa Weir has created for me a Harold Bloom-like “heterocosm,” a mesmerizing world which would have heretofore been otherwise inaccessible. One of my favorite reads of 2011, The Orchard is easily mistakable as a novel for its engaging, page-turning flow and its seemingly imaginative plot. Yet, it is in fact Weir’s deeply affecting memoir that threads its way from her neglected and abusive childhood into her alternative life as an outsider on her new husband’s Midwest family farm. Weir must balance her desire to fight the family’s heavy use of pesticides for the devastation that she knows the chemicals are causing, with her love for her husband and the apple orchards which have been in his family for generations.
-Susan McBeth, Founder and Owner of Adventures By the Book, San Diego
Possibly the most riveting memoir you will ever read.
Deb Futter, Editor in Chief, Grand Central Publishing
“The Orchard” describes true love… a love that is tested and shines through in even the most difficult times. Weir is brutally honest, which adds to the appeal of the memoir. Her ability to draw the reader in with elegant writing, raw feelings and beautiful imagery make it impossible to put this book down. “The Orchard” is a book that makes you think twice about the true meaning of love.
Crazy Book Reviews
The Orchard is soberingly beautiful and an astounding feat of writing. Weir has written chilling thrillers under her Anne Frasier nom de plume, but none are as page-turning as her own story. While normally an orchard is thought of as peaceful and beautiful, Weir casts the trees and their common fruit into a villainous role, the force that could save or destroy her young family. The writing is finely tuned, not wasting any words to propel the reader through these years of her life.
Even if you don’t read memoirs, you need to read this book. It will definitely place high on my top 10 books I read in 2011 list, a sure contender for the top spot.
Bethany Warner, Word Nerd
I can honestly say that The Orchard is one of the most pivotal books I’ve ever read, irrevocably changing my view of the world.
“Reading “The Orchard”, it is necessary to keep reminding oneself that this is a memoir – this all took place. It reads like a novel, with a cast of quirky and just downright odd and ill-assorted characters. It is sobering to realize that we truly were so enamored of chemicals in agriculture, and naively, we thought they would solve all the problems. This memoir paints a personal face on the consequences of our unthinking reliance on pesticides. Remarkably, Weir writes without bitterness, but with clarity and understanding of the choices that were made.”
Nicola Rooney, Nicola’s Books Ann Arbor
“I finished THE ORCHARD early this morning in tears. I see why this book came up so often, was talked about by so many, last week at BEA. Lovely, moving, beautiful portrait of an unusual marriage, farm life, family, and [to be trite] triumph over adversity. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know this writer, Theresa Weir, before reading her memoir. How did I miss her? “
—Chris Higashi, Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library (Seattle, WA)
“We have long been huge fans of Theresa Weir, through her writings as Ann Frasier. She has a gift of describing the simplest, most commonplace things in a way that forevermore changes your way of looking at them. She’s a natural born story-teller, and in THE ORCHARD, what an incredible story she has to tell: her own. It’s an intimate and heroic memoir of love, loss, and family. As far as we’re concerned, THE ORCHARD belongs on everybody’s list of must-reads.”
—Pat and Gary, Once Upon a Crime (Minneapolis, MN)
“I just finished Theresa Weir’s memoir—wow!!! Loved it! Weir delivers a brutally honest look at family and marriage, and the economic and social pressures placed upon them by the family farm. The Orchard will leave you pondering the value of your own relationships as well as the “true” costs of American agriculture long after you finish this book.”
—Kari Erpenbach, University of Minnesota Bookstores (Minneapolis, MN)
“I finished reading THE ORCHARD on Saturday–It was wonderful. I would put it right up there with Glass Castle and Too Close to the Falls–two of my favorites. I will definitely be hand selling this one.”
—Ellen Havlak, Bennington Bookshop (Bennington, VT)
“Theresa Weir’s memoir THE ORCHARD is not only her story of struggle as a troubled youth and eventually a bar maid but also her acceptance into the hard life of a farmer’s wife under an oppressive and amazingly controlling thumb of her mother-in-law. THE ORCHARD is a love letter to her husband and to the life that they built together as well as a love letter to nature and what nature will yield and not yield and it is a story of caution in the harm that we are doing to the land that we rely on for so much and to ourselves with pesticides and aggressive farming. Theresa Weir tells her story with grace, unflinching honesty and compassion all the while establishing a sense of place and time with a master story teller’s perspective so engaging you forget it is a memoir.”
—Calvin Crosby, Books Inc. (Berkeley, CA)
“Don’t miss this true story of a time and place when pesticides were seen as the best thing that ever happened not only for farming, but also for our food supply. Theresa Weir, a confused city girl, married an apple farmer in haste. On nights when he came home late and exhausted after spraying the orchards, he came right to bed without even a shower. I cheered for her and wept too as she came to realize the perils of the spraying and as she gradually fell in love with her husband. Weir’s writing is so immediate that I felt I was right there breathing the chemicals, and struggling to find answers while she learned more and more about her husband, his family and herself. Weir’s beautiful memoir will enchant you and haunt you for a long, long time.”
—Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)
“A powerful and poignant memoir. Ms. Weir uses her own family history as a backdrop for the challenging environmental issues surrounding the apple farm where she lives with her husband and family. Both her early life and farm life are fraught with emotional loss and difficulty. She offers an intensely honest look at her life and shares what she learns about herself and the land that sustains her.
—Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette (Fairhope, AL)
“I finished reading THE ORCHARD a while back and wanted to let it rest in my memory before commenting. Theresa Weir has taken the memoir to a different place. A wonderful place. This is the first thing that she has written that I have read, and I am impressed with her skill. Weir’s story, in part, has been told by numerous other women in numerous other memoirs. What she does that captures the reader is take you into her life. You are not just a reader, you are sharing with her. Everything that Weir has gone through in her life that she shares with the reader is compelling. I was captivated. This should shoot to the best seller lists.”
—Dan Radovich, Barnes & Noble (Vernon Hills, IL)
In The Orchard Weir manages to tell us her story in candid exquisite prose, so sublime that it reads like a love story about a marriage, love of nature and how we struggle to put adversity behind us even while running into it over and over again. Weir describes life on the family farm in the Midwest with such clarity that you know such a life runs in her veins. The Orchard is a perfect read, a life story so well written and told that you will succumb to its brilliance and beauty.
Bank Square Books, Inc. 53 West Main Street Mystic, CT
“This memoir is viscera encapsulated, of young, passionate love and shattering tragedy around the corner, of a horrible childhood redeemed by motherhood and literary output in secret, of not fitting in until you make everything fit you.”
Publishers Lunch, Favorite Books of 2011