Review of Blenheim Orchard by Tim Pears

Blenheim Orchard by Tim Pears

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Book Review of Blenheim Orchard by Tim Pears

Blenheim Orchard is a rare treat – another book from the marvellous Tim Pears. It is hard to find superlatives to describe this novel, so I will limit myself to words which may persuade others to read it. On the face of it, Blenheim Orchard follows an Oxford family through a few months of their lives in 2003.

But this is no sentimental family saga. Ezra and Sheena Peppin have three children, and the book deals with themes of middle-age and parenthood, while adolescence disturbs well-established family structures. It deals with friendship and work relationships, and the struggle we all have to come to terms with the circumstances of our lives while remaining sane.

This family are articulate and highly educated, and it is amusing to see Ezra and Sheena try to maintain their sense of “specialness” while teenage Blaise blows holes through so many of their pretensions and fake values. The failings of both parents are exposed from time to time, but this book is not an attack on the Peppins, but compassionately describes their struggle to live authentic lives among the cultural changes and work pressures of modern life.

This is a book which draws you in to the Peppins’ world, so that when you put it down you find yourself wondering what will happen next. It’s a book you read quickly but also want to make last a few days – a difficult task for this reader.

I have recently read Gerard Woodward’s “A Curious Earth”, another exploration of family life, and would say that these two books are the best I have read this year. This one is highly recommended and if I could award five and a half stars I would do so.

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