Book 16: Orchard House

TITLE: Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
AUTHOR: Tara Austen Weaver
STARTED: May 22, 2016
FINISHED: June 5, 2016
PAGES: 304
GENRE: Memoir 

FIRST SENTENCE: I hadn't expected much from the house.

SUMMARY: [From BN] 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.

THOUGHTS: This memoir was everything I hoped it would be. I've been following Weaver's blog, Tea and Cookies, for years. This book was essentially her blog in print form with all the entries focused on the orchard house. It's been a long time since I've wanted to ignore the world and read a book, and Orchard House made me want to do just that.

I can't imagine that this was an easy book to write. Weaver discusses many of the tough emotional challenges she and her family as faced but she balances them out with the victories and happy moments. I love how she uses the format of taking over an aging garden to show how, with careful tending, many things (including a family) will grow.

Weaver's writing style lush and lyrical. The writing has enough flourish to be rich but manages to stay away from purple prose. Her writing style is one of the main reasons I keep reading her blog. She manages to be approachable, friendly, warm, and insightful all at the same time.

I've often thought that I would love to get coffee with this author and this book only reinforces that wish.

RATING: 9/10 [Excellent!]