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.