Tracy Chevalier talks At the Edge of The Orchard

I fell in love young with Tracy Chevalier. We had to read The Girl with the Pearl earring as part of our english curriculum, her writing was vivid and transporting.

Many years later, on the 2nd March 2017 I wandered along to Daunt books in Hampstead to listen to Chevalier discuss her novel At the edge of the Orchard, about a pioneering family, apples, and the unforgiving American Frontier.

Tracy Chevalier: The Storyteller is an American British novelist living in North London with her husband and son. Her novel Girl with the Pearl Earring sold over two million copies worldwide

After a short reading in her wonderful natural American accent, Chevalier pulled out a bag asking audience members to select items which relate to her book An apple, a copy of The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, A Sequoia cone and bark.

This was such an inventive way of inviting us behind the scenes of her novel, and the inspirations.

Chevalier writes in a linear way, and her favourite is to be sat in a cafe writing long hand (with her disposable fountain pen, a luxyury!) and she can see the roadmap of editing as she slowly types it up. She admits research is seductive, and a procrastination technique, but loves it. She often sets goals, and some days it’s easy, some days it’s not. For example before the talk she was still in yoga gear after running various errands.

How does she feel about social media? does she feel pressure to always be interactive? 

I think it sets up more expectation than delivers

Social media has created a lot of pressure, sometimes we need to learn to be bored and not look at our phone, but there are always innovations the publishers are trying. Most recently she was asked to create a spotify playlist for the book for the publishers to promote. I personally feel this is not the right type of book or audience for such innovations.

I had mixed feelings about this book, particularly about the ‘voice’ being phonetic and uneducated for affect. However, after hearing Chevalier read out loud only her voice and rhythm could be heard as I went on to read.


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