The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor – Book Review

The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor

Verna Krone’s family has very little money and her father is of a very advanced age. In order to help support her parents and younger siblings, she has to leave school at the age of 14 in order to be the hired girl for another family. Unfortunately, the man of that house is completely unable and unwilling to keep his hands to himself, and Verna finds herself ‘in trouble.’ Although a potion from a midwife keeps the neighbors from finding out what was done to Verna at the hands of her employer, this was all simply the beginning of her trouble with men.

Verna pretty much has one crappy job after another – and during the Great Depression – and one crappy boyfriend after another. Eventually, though, she manages to make it through nursing school and ends up employed by a a black doctor, Dr. Crampton, who is not only in the center of political life, but also the purveyor of ‘illegal surgeries’ to end unwanted pregnancies. As  Dr. Crampton’s political influence begins to wane, Verna’s life begins to fall apart.

This was a very interesting story, made even more interesting based on the fact that this story was based largely on the story of the author’s grandmother – right down to her name. Knowing that this was a largely true story gave it much more power. That being said, I thought it got just a little bit slow in the middle. I think that much of her soul-destroying work history could have been elided, as I thought her early story and her time working for Dr. Crampton were the most interesting aspects of her story.

Although I think the work could have been a little shorter, the storyline was very interesting and the writing was fantastic. Taylor writes “The Blue Orchard” in present tense which can occasionally pull me out of the story, but I think that in this case it lent itself to a feeling of immediacy and envelopment in Verna’s life. I was so engaged in the story that I actually had to go back after finishing the book to see whether or not Taylor had continued to use present tense throughout the entire novel, because I honestly had no idea.

A very interesting novel about a woman trying to make her way in the world during a very difficult period, and constantly questioning her own beliefs about the prevailing mortality of her time. Recommended.

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This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
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10 comments to The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor – Book Review

  • I have this book as well and am looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Amy

    Interesting that it is based on a true story. That fact, and the part of the story that focuses on her time working with Dr. Crampton would be what I would find the most interesting. I am not finding myself compelled to go pick this up right away though, which is probably a good thing as I have too many books on my ‘need right now list’ already!

  • I do like to read a book that has some actual true story built into it. This woman really has had an amazing journey.

  • Glad to hear you liked this one. I have it for review as well. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  • Definitely intriguing and a unique storyline.

  • I love books set during the Depression and this one sounds engrossing! Great review!

  • This sounds a bit depressing and a little too real. Knowing it was based on a true story makes me even sadder.

  • sounds pretty good.
    fairly depressing though as well.

    the saving grace may be knowing that the protagonist grows to have a family who knows her well enough to want to immortalize her in writing.

  • Humm this sounded more interesting once I saw that it was based on a true story. I like the time period and like stories of women doing what it takes to survive.

  • Joyce Fuller

    THE BLUE ORCHARD is a page turner with fascinating characters, based on real people in a very real place, that throws light on issues of race and women’s rights and abortion. The story is set in the 1930’s Depression, but it certainly has relevance for our time.