It is 1838 and James and Sadie Goodenough set out from their overcrowded family farm in Connecticut and pretty much land where they land. After a horrible, difficult journey, the mud so thick they can barely struggle through it, they call it a day in northern Ohio. Sadie and James and their five children pretty much struggle daily. Their land is swampy and unrelenting. It is hard work just to meet basic needs. James begins to fulfill his dream of having the apple orchards he grew up with and with a few seedlings he brought on the journey and more he purchases from a traveling salesman, his focus becomes apples. There are apples that are eaters and apples that are spitters. Sadie becomes much too enthralled with the spitters which are made into alcohol and she is drunk much of the time. She is downright mean and very unhappy. The children are sadly neglected. James finds solace in the orchard until tragedy strikes and changes their lives forever. Flash forward to 1853 and Robert, the youngest who was always the apple of their eye, finds himself traveling west towards California. Many years pass with the Gold Rush, some odd jobs and finally using the knowledge he absorbed helping James in the orchard, Robert begins to assist a naturalist, botanist English gentleman that he finds traveling through the Redwoods. And so begins his journey to make his own future and find peace with the past. Author Tracy Chevalier is a magnificent storyteller and I love historical novels filled with characters so detailed you can see and hear them, but I have to admit there was way too much apple tree and plant information for my liking. It did not keep me from enjoying the book but I found those parts tiresome.