The Orchard: A Memoir

Theresa Weir, Author
Theresa Weir. Grand Central, $23.99 (230p) ISBN 978-0-446-58469-2
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-1-61173-204-7
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The use of heavy pesticides over decades on Midwestern farms forms the dark, moody leitmotiv of this affecting memoir set largely around a 1970s orchard by thriller writer Weir (aka Anne Frasier). As a 21-year-old from a divorced home who grew up in Miami and Albuquerque, with a talent for art but little prospects to educate herself, Weir gravitated toward the Midwest, where she worked as a waitress in her uncle’s bar in Henderson County, Ill., just off the Iowa border; farmers dropped in for beer and a secret stash of porn her uncle kept in the back, their arms dusted with the herbicide they used in the fields. Smitten with young, handsome Adrian Curtis, the scion of a large apple orchard that seemed to be under a curse of bad luck, Weir soon married the serious, reticent young farmer and lived with him in a small cabin on his parents’ farm, although she hadn’t a clue about being a farm wife; moreover, her in-laws despised her as an outsider (“white trash”) and nobody expected her to last long. Nonetheless, the marriage endured happily, two healthy children were born, and Weir improbably managed to start a career as a writer. But then both Adrian and his father were diagnosed with and died from cancer. Afraid of further contaminating themselves, Weir and her two children eventually moved out of the county. Weir, now living in Minneapolis, narrates a truly disquieting tale of familial dislocation and rupture. (Oct.)
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