The Orchid House

February 14, 2012

The Orchid House
By: Lucinda Riley
464 Pages

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. --

Reading this book was truly like traveling all over the emotional map. From the highs and lows to the good and bad, I was hooked. I don't think a book has had such a grip on me since I read Gone With The Wind. I  had to put the book down at times just to catch my breath from the latest surprise twist. Lucinda is an unbelievably talented and gifted writer who penned such a stunning book. Riley's writing style is poetic and visual. The plot she wove and all the twists and surprises she throws at you will keep you turning the pages. From start to finish, the surprises never ceased. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, you find out you may not have been correct. Not a page was wasted and every word was fully dedicated to the plot.

Julia is reeling from the devastating loss of not only her husband, but her beloved son, as well. Finally, after the better part of a year, she is beginning to feel human again. A trip to Wharton Park, a house she visited numerous times in her childhood, holds surprises: finding artwork she later learns were done by her mother; running into Kit (current Wharton Park co-owner - whom she met on a visit to the house. Several days after their meeting, Kit shows up at Julia's house with a discovery he's made. The house he's renovating was once home to her Grandparents, so he assumes a journal he found underneath old floorboards belongs to Julia's Grandfather. When Julia visits with her Grandmother she not only learns the journal wasn't her Grandfather's, but she also learns the story written within it's pages.

Journey back in time to WWII. Harry Crawford is next in line to run Wharton Place. Harry falls prey to the power of innocent suggestion and proposes to Olivia when his mother tells him what a wonderful match it could be. The marriage is anything but ideal. Everything is threatened when Olivia sees her husband kissing someone else. Months of tense estrangement lie ahead before Harry is able to talk to Olivia about it. A spur of the moment trip to the beach becomes the setting for the pair to reconnect and try again. However, their reunion is brief. War is declared, Harry is sent overseas, and Olivia is left behind to help run Wharton Park while pregnant.

Harry becomes a POW and imprisoned for 3 years. He wakes up in a Thailand hospital having almost died from dengue fever. Once healthy enough, Harry is taken to a hotel in Bangkok to recover before going back home to England. It is at this hotel Harry meets Lidia, a maid. They fall in love and Harry decides to forsake his inheritance and divorce Olivia so he and Lidia can spend the rest of their lives together. 

Wharton Park has survived the war, but is in desperate need of repair. Harry returns home to discover his father is dying and reality awaits him: Harry can't leave. The house and everyone who works on the estate is counting on him for their lively hood. A heartbroken Harry gets desperate when letters from Lidia suddenly stop coming. Is something wrong? Is she OK? In desperate need for answers, Harry sends his faithful servant, Bill, to find her. No one is prepared for the devastation this journey brings. Life will never be the same for anyone at Wharton Park.

As this story is unveiled, Julia falls in love with Kit. He selflessly cares for her when she falls seriously ill. The two begin a life together. However, all that is threatened when she decides to sell the house she shared with her husband and son. Will Julia be able to find the happiness she deserves?

Once you start The Orchid House,  you are in for the read of a lifetime. You will not want to put it down. This book will stay with you long after you read the last page. I urge you to read this book and step in to the world of Wharton Park. I have no doubt you will fall in love with it, just as I have.

Rating: BUY IT!!!!


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