24th - 26th August 2018
Power, Politics, Passion

Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is the author of seven novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2000 and adapted into a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. Born in Washington DC, in 1984 Tracy moved to London, where she lives with her husband and son. Her latest book, At the Edge of the Orchard is a powerful novel of family struggle, personal determination and the might of nature.


Canberra Writers Festival events

Grasping the Past

Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier joins award-winning writer and documentary maker Rachel Seiffert and new literary star Amy Gottlieb in this fascinating session on how they interpret, reimagine and explore history through literature. Hosted by Gillian Polack.

Friday 25th August 2017, 2:30pm. Conference Room, Level 4, National Library of Australia.
Tickets: Adult $24.00; Concession $21.95; Junior $11.75


The Past Isn't Past

The past is a foreign country and writers of all kinds have been our guides and interpreters. Ranging from fact to fiction, primary sources to satire, award-winning historian Frank Bongiorno, International fiction bestseller Tracy Chevalier and tongue-in-cheek yarn-spinner David Hunt will tell us how they approach the past – as inspiration, lost story or just a good laugh.

Saturday 26th August 2017, 10.45am. Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia.
Tickets: Adult $24.00; Concession $21.95; Junior $11.75


Tracy Chevalier in conversation with Alex Sloane

Tracy Chevalier was a reference book editor and part-time short story writer. That was until her second novel Girl with a Pearl Earring rocketed her to fame, selling five million copies worldwide and being made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.

Tracy’s latest book At the Edge of the Orchard is a rich, powerful story which weaves a rich tapestry of imagination from Ohio in 1838 to gold rush California. In it, Tracy brings to life the urge to wrestle with our roots, however deep and tangled they may be.

Saturday 26th August 2017, 12:45pm. Terrace Room, National Portrait Gallery.
Tickets: Adult $24.00; Concession $21.95; Junior $11.75 


About the Book

What happens when you can’t run any further from your past? 

Ohio, 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. Life is harsh in the swamp, and as fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts. James patiently grows his sweet-tasting ‘eaters’ while Sadie gets drunk on applejack made fresh from ‘spitters’. Their fighting takes its toll on all of the family – a battle that will resonate over the years and across America.

Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through Goldrush California. Haunted by the broken family he fled years earlier, memories stick to him where mud once did. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past, and one day Robert is forced to confront the brutal reason he left behind everything he loved. 

In this rich, powerful story, Tracy Chevalier is at her imaginative best, bringing to life the urge to wrestle with our roots, however deep and tangled they may be.

At the Edge of the Orchard is published by Harper Collins.

Buy the book from the festival's bookshop partner Dymocks.


More reading

Tracy's instagram.

The world of writer Tracy Chevalier, The Guardian, March 2014.

'I Ate A Lot Of Apples': Tracy Chevalier On Writing Her 'Orchard' Novel, NPR, March 2016.

15 Minutes with Tracy Chevalier, author of 'New Boy', She Does the City, June 2017.

Tracy Chevalier’s Novel on Ohio’s Underground Railroad, The Daily Beast, January, 2013.



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