Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Orchid House

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (February 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451655789
ISBN-13: 978-1451655780


Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences.

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 overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this 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

This story surprised me! I really didn't expect this story to grab me the way it did. The story starts out with a grieving widow and mother who just can't seem to find the will to move on with her life. Julia is a pianist who has lost her husband and son in a horrible accident.

When Julia attends an estate sale at the home her grandparents lived and worked at, she is given a diary that the new owner believes belongs to her grandfather. Kit, the new owner of Wharton Park, and Julia are not exactly strangers. Julia spent much time at the estate where her grandfather grew orchids. Julia returns the diary to her grandmother, Elsie who was a house maid at Wharton Park. Elsie and Julia take a trip back in time through Elsie's memories. Elsie's story takes Julia back in time to World War II where family secrets begin. The story goes back and forth from WWII to the present.

There are many layers to this story and many important characters in this book. I did not have any trouble following along with the story or the characters. I attribute this to the author's wonderful writing! The characters are well defined and I felt as though I knew them well. Sometimes when books have too many characters and go back and forth in time, it can be a bit confusing. Not this book! It was very well written.

There are many twists, turns and secrets in this book to keep the reader fully engaged. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going to go, something unexpected would happen. It kept me on my toes! It's definitely a page turner!

This book reminds me a bit of Downton Abbey as the estate, Wharton Park is much like a character in the story. The estate plays a huge role in the future of all of the characters, both past and present.

I look forward to reading more from Lucinda Riley. This book was originally published in Europe under the title Hothouse Flower.

I received this book from Netgalley for my honest review.


  1. It sounds like it's very engrossing and well written!

  2. This sounds good and I do love Downtown Abbey. It's always great when a book surprises you in a good way.

  3. Sounds like a tear jerker, and so much more. Great review!!

  4. Great review. I have this one on my shelf -- it was published here last year under the title The Hothouse Flower and I've had it sitting on my shelf unread for months now. I've read mixed reviews, but yours has encouraged me to try it sooner rather than later.

  5. This sounds fantastic. You know me and WWII era's going on my to-read list for sure!


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