A Novel

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
From the bestselling author of Montana 1948 comes the explosive story of an artist, his muse, and the staggering price they pay for their chance at immortality.

Sonja Skordahl, a Norwegian immigrant, came to America looking for a new life. Instead, she settled in Door County, Wisconsin, and married Henry House—only to find herself defined by her roles as wife and mother. Destiny lands Sonja in the studio of Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed painter. There she becomes more than his model and more than a mere object of desire; she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known, much to the chagrin of the artist’s wife. When both Ned and Henry insist on possessing Sonja, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence—as she struggles to appease both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.


Henry House stayed out of the orchard’s open aisles and instead kept close to the apple trees as he tried to work his way unnoticed down the hill. This meant he could barely rise out of a crouch, ducking under one low gnarly branch after another. The new November snow further complicated matters. It was just enough...
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1. The author compares the novel’s form to an Impressionist painting. Where do you think this idea comes from? Does the form work?

2. How might Orchard’s nonchronological form be justified? How would the novel change if it were structured differently?

3. Much is made of possession and...

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“This book will leave you illuminated. . . . If there exists a literary equivalent to the artist’s play of light on a canvas, then Larry Watson has mastered it. . . . Every scene of Orchard is painted with deliberate, vivid strokes of radiance. . . . Watson’s sparse words and controlled prose turn a remote town and four lonely characters into a remarkable tale.”
—Baltimore Sun

“Clear-eyed, close-to-the-bone, inherently dramatic and endlessly implicative . . . Watson’s insights into his characters not only bring them to life, but also shed light on the nature of art, love and marriage.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“An enthralling, thought-provoking read . . . This is a story that comes together at its own internal pace, and when whole understanding dawns, it is with clear power.”
The Denver Post

“[A] powerful tale . . . captivating and haunting, and very hard to put down.”
The Washington Post Book World