The Orchard

Books on Tape. Mar. 2022. 11:36 hrs. ISBN 9780593504987. $95. F
Inspired by Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Gorcheva-Newberry’s (What Isn’t Remembered) magnificent saga showcases 1980s Russian life, history, and politics from the viewpoints of feisty, smart teenagers Anya and Milka. Their dissimilar homes and parents reflect the differences in Russian life. Anya’s parents and grandmother are loving and prosperous, with both a dacha and an apple orchard. Milka’s family is much less stable, and thus she spends time with Anya’s family instead. The friends’ sexual awakening is realistically depicted and often amusing. Anya’s boyfriend is an intelligent reformer, while Milka’s is a traditional Communist. Conversations and depictions of the city, countryside, and food are captivating. Eventually, Anya studies, marries, and settles in America, returning to the dacha 20 years later to save her family’s lands from developers. Narrator Julia Emelin’s accent enhances the text while making distinctions between characters, notably Anya’s sage grandmother, and delightfully irreverent Milka. Emelin’s engaging narration will draw listeners into the action. Read by Gorcheva-Newberry, the author’s note reveals that the story is highly autobiographical.
VERDICT This riveting saga, full of nostalgia, tumult, and bittersweet coming-of-age, will not disappoint.
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