The Promise of Pierson Orchard
by Kate Brandes
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (April 22, 2017)
Long before fracking ever came to Minden, Pennsylvania, the fissures in the Pierson family were developing into major fault lines.
Green Energy arrives, offering the rural community of Minden the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer, Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden–and Jack and Wade–many, many years ago.
“Brandes checks off all the boxes for quality fiction: the characters are well-rounded, the settings, such as the apple orchards, the crisp Silver Creek, and the rocky outcrops, are vividly described, and the plot is well-organized and crisply paced. The tension between the characters satisfyingly rises to a crescendo that’s in sync with the larger environmental crisis that threatens the town.” – KIRKUS REVIEWS
While he’d never seen one for sure, ghosts roamed the orchard. Maybe it was his great grandfather who’d planted the first apple tree, or his grandfather who’d expanded the operation, checking on the progress of the work they’d started. Or his dad, who probably thought Jack wasn’t upholding the Pierson reputation. Nothing had ever been good enough for that man.
I finally realized what Rose already knew – all we needed to be happy was to show up for each other… Acceptance and forgiveness. That’s how love grows.
The Promise of Pierson Orchard was a relevant, powerful, and dramatic story loaded with family pressures and heartbreaking losses. The characters’ tension practically vibrated from my kindle as I could clearly sense the profound importance of how the various events occurring in the story were impacting each of them. The weight of their fatigue, despair, and devastating disappointments was palpable. The author’s word skills cleverly depicted the heaviness of the years of regret and guilt carried by each. I was absorbed by the complicated tale and was quickly lost in Ms. Brandes’s well-crafted and emotive story. The storyline and writing were captivating and relevant and while the characters were complex, damaged, and frustrating at times, I cared about them and flinched and held my breath more than once while intense scenarios played out. I had tremendous sympathy and admiration for the long-suffering Jack, the unfortunate and obstinate man seemed to have been cursed with adversity yet he continued to labor, battle, and persevere. My poor heart feels battered and bruised, my next read needs to be of the comedic variety.
An environmental scientist with 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wild flowers.