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Orchard by Larry Watson
In Orchard, Sonja Skordahl is a Norwegian immigrant in the 1940s who came to the U.S. in search of a better life. Instead she finds herself defined by her marriage to Henry House, an apple grower in rural Wisconsin. One of their few neighbors is the artist, Ned Weaver and his wife, Harriet. Ned is famous, not just for his art, but for his affairs with his models. Harriet reluctantly accepts his philandering as the price to pay for his art and his fame. Sonja and Henry's marriage grows even chillier and distant after the death of their son, and Sonja becomes the new model for Ned. She becomes the most important muse ever for Ned and delights in her new found sense of self. Henry, however, will do anything to reclaim his wife. The Washington Post says of Orchard, "Larry Watson's new novel is the kind of book that could be difficult to finish, because so many unhappy events take place between its covers. Instead it is both captivating and haunting, and very hard to put down."