Tracy Chevalier's historical novel At the Edge of the Orchard is the story of a family forced to eke out a living in Black Swamp, Ohio, in the 1800s. The mother, Sadie, hates her life so much that she takes an axe to the apple orchard, but mortally wounds her husband instead. He kicks her with his dying breath, knocking her backwards into a spike from a deer fence, which mortally wounds her as well. Their young children, Robert and Martha, witness the event, and they each struggle for the rest of their lives to come to terms with the violence and their own situations. The novel's main themes are man's connection with nature, death, and methods of coping.