The Orange Tree


The Orange Tree

Mildred Walker
Edited and with an introduction by Carmen Pearson

312 pages


September 2006


$14.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

As in Chekhov’s play The Three Sisters, the characters in Mildred Walker’s Orange Tree search for meaning and happiness in their often uneventful middle-class lives—and yet from such a seemingly ordinary premise, subtle and defining drama ensues. Editing Walker’s last novel, which the author reworked for nearly two decades, Carmen Pearson has found indications that the Chekhov play had in fact been a template that Walker contemporized in The Orange Tree.

The novel centers on two families living in Boston in the 1970s: an older couple, Tiresa and Paulo Romano, and the newlyweds Olive and Ron Fifer. The fragile state of the older woman’s health and the younger woman’s marriage brings these two couples together in their separate and quietly desperate isolation, producing a combination of insight and compassion that only the finest story can evoke. In The Orange Tree, Walker explores the relationships between men and women and offers an absorbing commentary on literature, writing, education, middle-class life, and the nature of friendship and of death.

Author Bio

Mildred Walker (1905–98), a highly regarded chronicler of New England and the American West, is the author of numerous novels including The Southwest Corner, Fireweed, and Winter Wheat, which was chosen in 2003 by the Montana Center for the Book as the One Book Montana selection; it is available in a Bison Books edition. Carmen Pearson recently completed the first book-length critical consideration of Walker's work, forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press.


"Mildred Walker writes with an intensity and quiet fire about the life predicaments of her characters. The publication of The Orange Tree is an occasion for rejoicing."—David Budbill, author of While We've Still Got Feet

"Known in the mid-20th century for her American chronicles (Winter Wheat; Fireweed), Walker (1905-1998) was unable to publish this 1970s tale of two couples’ unlikely friendship during her lifetime. Newlyweds Olive and Ron Fifer live in a Boston apartment adjacent to Tiresa and Paulo Romano, an English professor and eye doctor who are a generation older. . . . As the couples come to know each other, their lives and marriages change irrevocably. In a manner reminiscent of Paula Fox (particularly in the dialogue), Walker delineates her characters with surety, unspooling Olive and Tiresa’s insights on sex, class, gender roles, age and each other."—Publishers Weekly

Also of Interest