Wal­rus Reads

Books by Cather­ine Lacey, Adrian Owen, and He­len Humphreys

The Walrus - - CONTENTS - By He­len Humphreys

“it is an in­ti­mate act, tast­ing an ap­ple,” writes He­len Humphreys. It can also be a nos­tal­gic one. In The Ghost Or­chard, Humphreys presents lit­tle-known sto­ries about po­ets, artists, and thinkers who were in­spired by ap­ples. In 1792, Ann Jes­sop, then a mid­dle-aged Quaker min­is­ter, re­turned to the United States from a visit to Eng­land, where she had col­lected the scions of var­i­ous ap­ple trees. Jes­sop had trav­elled with fel­low min­is­ter Han­nah Stephen­son; Humphreys sug­gests that it may have been the shared ex­pe­ri­ence of that trip that sparked Jes­sop’s pas­sion for ap­ples.

More than a cen­tury later, an­other Amer­i­can would de­velop a sim­i­lar pas­sion. Humphreys de­scribes the long walks that Robert Frost en­joyed with fel­low poet Ed­ward Thomas in 1914—walks that of­ten took them through the ap­ple or­chards of Glouces­ter­shire. Decades later, an eighty-three-yearold Frost planted his own or­chard, in part as a trib­ute to that re­la­tion­ship.

Humphreys be­gan writ­ing The Ghost Or­chard when her own friend, with whom she’d trav­elled, be­came ter­mi­nally ill. In seek­ing out the lost sto­ries of or­chards and the peo­ple who once cared for them, the au­thor of­fers un­ex­pected lessons on friend­ship and grow­ing older.

— Samia Mad­war

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