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The Rocky Orchard (Amika Press) released May 12, 2020.
A youthful woman returns to her old family farm, a vacation site and pivotal refuge throughout her young life. While she is there, she meets and befriends an elderly woman. Mazie is adrift on a sea of memory as she gazes toward the rocky orchard above the farmhouse when Lula emerges eerily from the fog and a gentle, cautiously loving relationship between the youth and old age begins.
As the two women meet each morning and play cards, Mazie considers the shape of her life and the nature of her recollections through stories she tells her new, older friend. The women travel through Mazie’s stories as if together they are tentatively feeling their way through the stony risks hidden by the mist beneath the apple trees, and like a vision disappearing into the distance, it becomes increasingly unclear exactly what events in Mazie’s life caused her to return to the farm. And as she explores the illusory intersection of the past, present and future, Mazie begins to question whether it was, in fact, a coincidence that Lula came into view among the trees one cool morning—and whether anything she believes or feels is real.
REVIEWS of THE ROCKY ORCHARD:
Full Review By Charles Remington for Readers’ Favorite:
Mazie sits on the swing on the porch of her family home, she is alone but comfortable and happy to be there. Her senses are alive to her surroundings; the clanking of the chain holding the swing, the warm balmy weather, the earthy smells from the nearby orchard – an orchard located in such an odd, inhospitable part of the farm. Her mind drifts back to her early life, then on to her teens when she first became involved with a boy called Sean. The Rocky Orchard by Barbara Monier tells how one morning Mazie is interrupted in her musings and recollections by an elderly female marching through her orchard and across her land. Surprised but glad of the company, she engages the elderly woman in conversation which prompts regular morning visits. Mazie discovers that the woman’s name is Lula and, like her, she likes to play card games. So, every day they sit on the porch with Mazie reflecting on episodes from her life while Lula deals the cards. As Mazie’s reflections become increasingly vivid, some happy, some sad, some disturbing, she starts to wonder what is actually going on. Why is she there? How did she arrive? Who is Lula? Is there some purpose to this seemingly innocuous daily routine?
Barbara Monier is a talented author who has crafted an enthralling dreamlike tale that gently picks apart the central character’s life. Her fears and longings, joys and sorrows are brought to life by way of the author’s eloquent prose. Though grounded in Mazie’s family home, an otherworldly atmosphere permeates the narrative. Well-written and peopled with solid believable characters Ms. Monier’s descriptions are a joy. I find it hard to pigeonhole The Rocky Orchard in any particular genre but can honestly say that I enjoyed it. Intriguing from the very start, it was an excellent read. Highly recommended.