Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Orchid House - Lucinda Riley

Title: The Orchid House
Author: Lucinda Riley
Paperback: 447 pages
Publisher: Atria/Simon & Schuster
Published date: US edition Feb 2012
FTC: Received for signing up for Simon & Schuster's Book Club

I was immediately hooked by the beautiful cover.  With my version the only difference is there's a "International Bestseller" thing on the front and a blurb from ELLE Germany.  What a great book choice for a book club.  I mean the writing was absolutely amazing and completely absorbed me into the story.  The 447 pages just flew by.  There were aspects and characters in the story that I loved and hated.  This was such a hard review to write that I included a SPOILERS section where I could rant and rave.  That said, I would definitely pick up another one of Lucinda Riley's books.

Back of the Book:

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with the overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to the tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a beautiful, romantic, and poignant novel.

My thoughts:

The first thing you must know is that this is a UK book so you can really tell with some of the wording and phrases.  The writing is just so beautiful and so engaging that I can picture it all in my head still.  I fell in love with the modern characters of Julia and Kit.  Julia's grief was so real and it really hit home. One of my biggest fears is of losing my husband and child.

I love WWII stories so of course the flashback to Harry, Olivia and Harry's time in Thailand was just perfect.  Not often do I find a well balanced book that has flashbacks or goes back in time and this is one of those few.  My biggest problem with the book is that I just couldn't like Harry.  I just wanted to slap him repeatedly -- and yell at Olivia for getting herself into her mess.  I don't want to give much away here but  really that's where I just wanted to throw the book.

I think it's curious that a few of my last reads involve an aging English estate -- The Orchid House has Wharton Park and The Little Stranger has The Hundreds.  It's really putting me in the whole Downton Abbey mood.  I love it.  Brew me up some English breakfast tea with a bit of milk and sugar and sign me up for another moody British estate book.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Ok.  Now for the SPOILERS!!!! 

I really want to discuss all the ups and downs of this book --- and the TWISTS and surprises!  I read this book with the mindset of discussing it with people so I have to blab all my thoughts.  Here we go:

First the characters.  Harry.  Who all LIKED Harry?  I think we were supposed to feel sympathy for Harry but man, I just couldn't.  First he thinks he might be gay and then figures out oh no he isn't AFTER he gets married and then is surprised when Olivia is all upset.  Then his description of Lidia (who by the way I did really love) was kind of pervy to me.  I mean she's barely an adult and all of his descriptions are of a child. Gross.  I was also offended for Olivia how he compared perfect petit Lidia to oxhorse Olivia (who really was a knockout).  Then there's Olivia who - no offense but how was she not surprised that her marriage ended up all wonky.  Harry never said he loved her, wouldn't sleep with her, was caught kissing a guy, and really Olivia, you really married Harry because you fell in love with Wharton Park.  Deal with it.

Now for the twists.  I saw all of them coming -- ALL of them except Julia's husband thing.  Really?  I kind of wish there was a way that Lucinda Riley could have had Julia get passed her mourning and move on with her life then have a crappy alcoholic husband come back from the dead and dash her "oh he was so perfect after he was dead" thoughts.  Kind of weak.  Though I saw it coming (Harry and Julia were awesome pianists), did anyone find it kind of off-putting that Julia and Kit were related? Gross.

As for the ending, I thought with Lidia showing up and saving the day to be a little too, well, neat. How she just happens to have a ton of money and can save Wharton Park.  Hmmm.

Ok. I think that's about it for my rants and raves.  If you've read this book and want to blab with me, please do so! Just make sure you note any spoilers!



So the above book and cover I have is the US Atria/Simon & Schuster edition.  The UK edition is called Hothouse Flower and looks like this:

Other versions



Which cover do you prefer?

Also Reviewed By:
S. Krishna's Books

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