My choice of reading material is non-fiction, historical accounts. Finding them in the first person narrative is a bonus. A memoir is a real treat. A woman's viewpoint and her actions as she lives through any given period intrigues me. So "The Orchard, a Memoir" left me with a lot to think about. For several days I tried to write a deserving review but still find my words lacking.
Betty Robertson Cramer found her mother's handwritten account of her years during the Great Depression which she later published as "The Orchard", a time period covering the first few years after her father's death. Adele Crockett Robertson took on the responsibility of the family homestead, including an orchard which had provided the principle income for the family. The onset of the Depression, however, made drastic changes in the running of the homestead. The bottom dropped out of the market price for apples.
We watch her grow as she hires labor and deals with the bank, buyers, poachers, and the largest threat of all, the weather. She never shirked a responsibility, making sure her employees were paid even when her finances were slim. From years of training under her father's instruction she knew what had to be done, from spraying the trees to running the machinery. She treated everyone fairly and earned the respect of her employees and her competitors. They admired her dedication and resourcefulness. By having her written word we see her thoughts, her worries, her finances. We follow as she copes with the relentless weather.
The Orchard is an easy read, offering a different insight into the hardships during the Depression. It reminds us to be thankful for today's luxuries while showing us how close we can be to the edge. Our economy is not safe. How quickly it can tumble and we may have to depend on the kindness of others. This book may not be a literary giant. It's more of a journal, showing the thoughts and reasoning for her actions.
The may be a few different lessons here, but one that I take from this book is "Whose dream are we saving?" If you choose to read it, (and I hope that you do) you'll understand.
This book has a permanent space on my shelf.