Review of The Rocky Orchard, Barbara Monier

Originally published on Reedsy Discovery. 

The Rocky Orchard is Monier’s fourth novel and a testament to her experience and craft.

Monier captures Mazie, the novel’s protagonist, exceptionally. From four years old to her late twenties, Mazie’s characterisation is realistic and charts her growth as a young woman; whilst still reminding us all of the traits or quirks we develop as children and never fully grow out of.

The way Monier writes about the landscape is also stunning. She captures seasonal differences in one setting; the farmhouse and its surroundings became a living, breathing entity through her writing.

Moreover, Monier intertwines nature with human emotion – the jewelweed in Lula’s hands reflects her soft reassurance; the full-bodied creek is Mazie’s ever-flowing thought process, the questions desiring answers; and the description of the mountain road made Mazie’s fear palpable.

I have said little about the story itself because to talk about Mazie’s journey would be to spoil the twists and turns which lay dormant between the chapters. Monier’s writing is wonderfully unpredictable and her use of structure is masterful.

However, I was disappointed by the ending. In comparison to the exposition and climax, the resolution felt rushed. Despite being told of Mazie’s closure, I did not feel closure myself. But, perhaps, Monier did not want readers to find closure alongside Mazie; perhaps we are meant to learn to stop questioning and start reflecting and evaluating too.

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