Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Reading 2016 The Forbidden Orchid

The Forbidden Orchid

Many people see Victorian England as a romantic time with its beautiful clothing, emphasis on manners and the expectations of society, and the beginnings of scientific advances with steamships and Darwin's writings. But there are things to dislike about that time period. Girls only stayed in school until their mid-teens, and after that they were expected to get married or find employment. Women had little say in their lives and were bossed around by fathers husbands, doctors, pastors, and basically any male in their lives. Girls and women were expected to be in the home and caring for their families, not out traveling and having adventures. And they were never allowed to be alone with a man (even a teenager), without having their reputation tarnished and their prospects for marriage ruined. And Elodie Buchanan seems to be fighting all of them.

Elodie's father is a plant-hunter, a man who travels the world collecting specimens of exotic plants for the rich men who hire him and also for the Botanical Gardens at Kew. But his last trip to China in search of orchids had a disastrous end and he has withdrawn from his family while he attempts to recover. Unfortunately, his last sponsor demands that he return immediately to China and fulfill his contract or his belongings will be seized, his family sent to the parish workhouse, and he will be locked up in debtor's prison. How can Elodie help her father prepare for his journey and ensure her family's future? From the quiet country house in Kent, to the bustling streets of London, then off to the opium houses and wild mountains of China, Elodie comes to the realization that just like the wildflower she is named for, she flourishes in the wild rather than shut up in a house.

Full of period details, danger, suspense, and touches of romance, this is a story for readers who enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters. Definitely for the YA crowd and not younger children; there are references to opium addiction, birth control, concubines, and sexual relations of various sorts.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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