The Orchard on Fire

By Shena Mackay

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“Set in the small English village of Stonebridge in the Fifties, this is the story of eight-year-old April Harlency's coming of age in a place where the charm of the local landscape contrasts sharply with the prejudices, vicious gossip, and vagaries of what we would now call child abuse. As the Harlency family moves from their rented rooms to run the Copper Kettle Tearoom (poorly), their ex-landlord hangs a notice on the window: 'No Blacks. No Irish. No Pets.'

"April befriends the red-headed, energetic Ruby who lives above her parents' butcher shop where, as April says, 'I learned the fate of Pansy Pig and all her pink litter and burst into tears.' The two girls form an immediate and fast friendship. April also befriends the lonely Mr. Greenridge who presses his unwanted sexual advances on her. To escape the pressures of daily life, April and Ruby find a hideaway in the middle of an orchard where, together, they build the 'camp of our dreams.'"

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