Review: The Orchid House

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
Published by Atria on February 14, 2012
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 449
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

For fans of The House at Riverton and Rebecca—a debut spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from a magnificent estate in war-torn England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist, Julia, and the prominent Crawford family whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences for generations to come.

As a child Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the great house 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 the tranquility of the estate. 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 Wharton Park. Their search takes them back to the 1930s when a former heir to Wharton Park married his young society bride on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt on generations to come.

Lucinda Riley skillfully sweeps her readers between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II with irresistible and atmospheric storytelling. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a romantic, poignant novel that became an instant bestseller in the UK and Germany.

What an incredibly beautiful story. The lyrical language caught me from the very beginning. Lucinda Riley’s novel is impressive, weaving together a tale that spans decades and continents.

Julia, at first, is not the most likable character; she is too lost in her depression, the cause of which you do not know for a while, to be too understandable, at least to someone lacking such an experience. She is actually rather rude to her well meaning family members, pushing away those that would help. But, as she becomes enthralled by the glimpses into the past, she begins to open up, like an orchid perhaps, revealing the bright spirit underneath.

Riley’s novel champions love. She definitely seems to believe that real love is out there. However, she also clearly knows that love does not always win out. In fact, love may lose more often than not. Many romances end in tragedy, due to bad timing or a lack of reciprocation. She points out too how passion can blind one, and that love might be more calm than exciting. The variations of love felt by the characters is touching and inspirational and sad.

The historical fiction sections were completely fascinating, not that the modern ones were not. I know absolutely nothing about the WWII occurrences in Thailand. My favorite thing about historical fiction is learning things I previously didn’t know. I may need to research this. Also, I now really want to go to Thailand and swim in the ocean.

If you like well-written fiction, do not miss this. Also, this might appeal to Downton Abbey fans. Speaking of Downton, both seasons just arrived in the mail. So excited!!!

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