Published by Viking on March 8th 2016
Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls' father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.
Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors' prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie's father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.
But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?
Hi friends! I am beyond exciting to be reviewing a book by one of my favorite authors, Sharon Biggs Waller! Sharon is a lovely person and her first book A Mad, Wicked Folly may be my favorite book of all time! On with the review!
WHAT I LIKED
The setting. I looooove historical fiction. I’ve always said that a good historical book can transport you and The Forbidden Orchid was no exception! The setting and time period was gorgeously described. Even the interior descriptions were rich with detail. I felt like I myself was on that ship with Elodie and Alex. Sharon Biggs Waller does a fabulous job taking on the dialects and using vocabulary from the time she’s writing in. All of the character’s voices were different in my head because of the vocabulary and slang! It was also really cool to read the little historical bits (like Elodie reading Darwin’s book).
The characters. Talk about well-developed characters! Within the first 10 pages, I had a clear sense of all the characters and who they were. The relationships between the sisters were emotionally charged and strong. My favorite character was Elodie’s father. He was a complex, fascinating character. He cared deeply for his family, yet he abandoned them in a time of need to complete his work. The character’s drive and passion was obvious to me as the reader. I also loved the main character, Elodie. She was strong-willed, brave, and felt every emotion fiercely. She knew how to defend herself in times of need and was a strong shoulder to lean on for her family. Sharon writes the best feminist characters!
The romance. I absolutely adored Alex and Elodie together! They had that slow burn, friends to lovers romance that I love so much. Although I loved them together as a couple, I think I would’ve been okay if they didn’t end up together. I didn’t love them as much as I loved Will and Vicky in A Mad, Wicked Folly. Their friendship was so loving and strong that I didn’t need to romance to further it. However, I still liked it 🙂
The plot. I’ve never read a book about flowers before! At first, I thought this book might be similar to Heather Dixon’s Entwined (a paranormal historical that I loved) because of the sisters and the flower names, but it had a completely different plot. I was rooting for Elodie the whole time and truly wanted her to find the flowers and save her family. I really liked the plot line of her hiding in the ship. It was both hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
The pacing was slow for the first 100 pages, but it was necessary in order to develop the characters. There was really nothing wrong with this book!
Have you read The Forbidden Orchid? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!