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Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author of Montana 1948, Larry Watson, spins an unforgettable story of obsession and betrayal, set against the stark backdrop of rural Wisconsin. Like so many women who crossed the lonely Atlantic before her, Sonja Skordahl is told that she will have a new life in America. Yet once she comes to this country, she soon finds herself defined, like so many other midtwentieth-century women, by her roles as mother and wife. She marries Henry House, a third-generation orchardist, in picturesque Door County, Wisconsin, and together they set about the business of raising their two children.
But tragedy soon interrupts that placid life, and out of a desperate concern for her family, Sonja agrees to pose for Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed artist. Under Weaver's gaze, Sonja gains a new identity. Her beauty has always made her an object of desire, but now she becomes a muse as well. When both Ned Weaver and Henry House insist on possessing her, their jealousies threatening to erupt into violence, Sonja must find a way to placate both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self. Obsession and possession, art and responsibility, the varieties of love and beauty — Watson weaves his provocative themes in prose both lyrical and rugged. Orchard has the drama of a classical tragedy and the texture and subtlety of an Impressionist painting.
"Marvelous...Showing a deep maturity and craft, Watson surpasses himself in [Orchard]." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
From the bestselling author of Montana 1948 comes the explosive story of an artist, his muse, and the staggering price they pay for their chance at immortality.
Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed painter, is famous in Door County, Wisconsin, for his luminous work—and for his affairs with his models. His wife, Harriet, has learned to accept these dalliances in the belief that his immense talent will ultimately make up for his shortcomings as a husband.
Sonja Skordahl, a Norwegian immigrant, came to America looking for a new life. Instead, she married Henry House, only to find herself defined, like so many other mid-twentieth-century women, by her roles as wife and mother. As circumstances and destiny land Sonja in Ned’s studio, she becomes more than his model and more than an object of desire—she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known. When both Ned and Henry insist on possessing her, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence, and Sonja must find a way to placate both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.
With the stark, lyrical prose that Larry Watson is known for (“as fresh and clear as [a] trout stream” —The Washington Post Book World) and vivid characters who seem to breathe on the page, Orchard explores the lives of four very different people bound together by beauty, art, obsession, and betrayal.
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