The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers

Published: 2019 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Allen & Unwin 3. Logging Machinery [CC BY 3.0] via CSIRO 4. Geeveston Takeaway [No known copyright].

Miki is a sixteen-year-old girl whose parents have died, leaving her and her brother Kurt to live in a small town on the edge of a logging forest in Tasmania. Their family had spent their lives isolated on the family’s orchard. Now Kurt keeps a close watch on her, and restricts her to the takeaway shop they share. Leon is a Park Ranger who has started working in the town, and he strikes up a friendship with Miki. She begins to make connections with others in the town as well, and she discovers that Kurt is keeping secrets from her.

“… there was something off-beat about Miki.”

BOOK SNAPS: “The way the author writes about the Tasmanian environment is vivid and heartfelt. Themes of bullying, domestic violence and habitat destruction tend to overpower the story of Miki. Even though she is the main character, the story doesn’t seem to centre on her.”

  • Theresa Smith Writes: “The Orchardist’s Daughter is beautifully written, an intersection of nature and humanity, a study of both the good and the bad within people. It’s honest and brutal, gentle and poetic, a real joy to read and linger over.”
  • Readings: Set in the old-growth eucalypt forests and vast rugged mountains of southern Tasmania, The Orchardist’s Daughter is an uplifting story about friendship, resilience and finding the courage to break free.


“Within the tree’s thick skin, it was dark and quiet, dense with the sweet scent of rotting wood. Her feet sank in a soft bed of crumbled debris, and when she peered up she could just make out a small circle of light way above where the tree’s crown had blown out.”

“But there was something off-beat about Miki. She was young but old at the same time, shy but direct, surprisingly observant. She’d been home-schooled – perhaps that was why she was a bit odd. Maybe she’d spent time watching birds because she hadn’t had other children to play with.”

“Turning to face the mountains where the clouds hung steely and low, Miki saw the faint suggestion of a rainbow. Real, or imagined through the mist of her tears, it didn’t matter. All she knew was that the river running through her. Like waters of the river up in the mountains, was rich and deep with life, anticipation and hope.”

Author: Karen Viggers

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