In the Orchard, the Swallows Paperback
by Peter Hobbs
In the foothills of a mountain range in northern Pakistan is a beautiful orchard.
Swallows wheel and dive silently over the branches, and the scent of jasmine threads through the air.
Pomegranates hang heavy, their skins darkening to a deep crimson.
Neglected now, the trees are beginning to grow wild, their fruit left to spoil on the branches.
Many miles away, a frail young man is flung out of prison gates.
Looking up, scanning the horizon for swallows in flight, he stumbles and collapses in the roadside dust.
His ravaged body tells the story of fifteen years of brutality.
Just one image has held and sustained him through the dark times - the thought of the young girl who had left him dumbstruck with wonder all those years ago, whose eyes were lit up with life.
A tale of tenderness in the face of great and corrupt power, "In The Orchard, The Swallows" is a heartbreaking novel written in prose of exquisite stillness and beauty.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 160 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 03/01/2013
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571279289
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Review by edwinbcn
In the orchard, the swallows is not just a simple love story, although just such a simple love story forms the basis of this cruel tale. In the orchard, the swallows is a modern Romeo and Juliet set in modern time in Pakistan. Not death, but spiritual death separates the lovers. The young man thrown into prison, which he barely survives, to be forgotten, cut off from the world, his love, and father, who dies during his imprisonment. Upon his release, he is nursed back, taken into the home by an old man. Recovering, pensively, he writes this heart-rending account of life in a note-book. His cruel experience is transient, while love, cruelty, human nature, and nature are for ever.In the orchard, the swallows contains beautiful descriptions of nature, the orchard, and the soothing presence of the swallows, perhaps a symbol of homeliness. Some parts of the book consist of telling, or lamenting monologues, which are a little bit overbearing. The setting in Pakistan is a bit estranging, but apparently rendered quite convincingly and true.