Allen & Unwin
A story of freedom, forgiveness and finding the strength to break free. International bestselling writer Karen Viggers returns to remote Tasmania, the setting of her most popular novel The Lightkeeper’s Wife.
Sixteen-year-old Mikaela has grown up isolated and home-schooled on an apple orchard in southeastern Tasmania, until an unexpected event shatters her family. Eighteen months later, she and her older brother Kurt are running a small business in a timber town. Miki longs to make connections and spend more time in her beloved forest, but she is kept a virtual prisoner by Kurt, who leads a secret life of his own.
When Miki meets Leon, another outsider, things slowly begin to change. But the power to stand up for yourself must come from within. And Miki has to fight to uncover the truth of her past and discover her strength and spirit.
Set in the old-growth eucalypt forests and vast rugged mountains of southern Tasmania, The Orchardist’s Daughter is an uplifting story about friendship, resilience and finding the courage to break free.
Sixteen-year-old Mikaela moved to the small timber town with her older brother Kurt after their parents were lost in a house fire. Miki grieved for her parents, but Kurt made a home for them behind the fish’n’chip shop which they ran. Being the only takeaway shop in town they were reasonably busy – but Miki didn’t get out except with Kurt when they went to the forest on a Monday. He kept her closeted inside – for her safety he said. Miki didn’t argue; she didn’t want to make him angry.
When Leon arrived to start his position as a Parks Ranger, he knew he wanted to make this place his home. His Grandpa was in a nursing home nearby, but he knew no one else. He’d left his parents at their property on Bruny Island where he’d lived most of his life – he knew it was time to get away as he and his father didn’t see eye to eye. Leon’s run-down old home was next door to young ten-year-old Max and his family. He soon found himself kicking the footy around with Max, who needed to work on his confidence. And Leon joined the local football team to meet some of the locals. He wasn’t sure how long it would take to be accepted though…
Miki was lonely, especially when Kurt was away in Hobart. She had her beloved books which had belonged to her mother, but she wanted more. Could she find a way to leave the shop, even just for a walk? Her feelings about her brother were changing; his anger and aggression were mounting – she didn’t know what to do. But trouble was coming, and Miki needed to find strength and resilience. Could she?
The Orchardist’s Daughter by Aussie author Karen Viggers is a beautifully written story of dominance, a need for freedom other than in the pages of a book, determination and a deep love of nature. Set among the eucalypts of southern Tasmania, Miki’s affinity to the forest, the Tasmanian devils, the majestic soaring eagles who nested in the forest – plus Leon’s love of those same forests which were in his blood – then the tense, gritty and breathtaking finish – all made for an excellent novel which I highly recommend. 5 stars.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my uncorrected proof ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.