The Blue Orchard: A Novel
by Jackson Taylor
Paperback- $9.84

On the eve of the Great Depression, Verna Krone, the child of Irish immigrants, must leave the eighth grade and begin working as a maid to ...

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  "The Blue Orchard" by aperrigo (see profile) 09/07/11

Although this was nobody's favorite book, it certainly provided for great discussion! Growing up in the 1920's, Verna's life was never anything but hardscrabble. Her mother sent her off to work for a nearby family where she was raped by the man of the household at age 14. Of course, she became pregnant, and the local midwife helped her abort. The Depression hit, and she moved from town to town, looking for a decent job. Along the way, there were other men--unfortunately, the next one to get her pregnant was already married. She had the baby, and left him with her mother to raise, while she set off to make something of herself. Verna went to nursing school, and after a couple disappointing early jobs began to work with Dr. Crampton, a highly respected African-American physician. She cared for the women who came to him for abortions. Quite radical for the time period!

Along the way she married a man who at first was very good to her--and then he started drinking, and their relationship went downhill quickly.

Overall, this was a pretty bleak story. Verna was not a very likable protagonist--in fact there was only one pleasant character in the entire book! The writing was not stellar--there were sometimes discrepancies and anachronisms, perhaps due to poor editing. That said, though, it was a fine title for book club because there were so many topics for discussion. So, although none of us really loved The Blue Orchard, it certainly was thought-provoking, and for that reason I would recommend it.

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