Thursday, April 19, 2012
Author: Lucinda Riley
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Atria Books, 2012
Read for: Review
The Orchid House begins with Julia, a concert pianist who has suffered an unimaginable tragedy. In trying to deal with the struggles of her past, she uncovers tragedy of her ancestors and the deep secrets they covered during the second world war. Her travels take her from her home in England to her former home in France to Thailand, and she manages to find romance on the way.
I requested The Orchid House from NetGalley because it sounded just like something out of Downton Abbey, and the mansion was called Wharton House, which reminds me of Edith Wharton, although she is in no way connected to this story. While this book delivered for me in terms of drama and plot, I found it somewhat lacking in depth and strong writing.
I wouldn't say the writing was bad. There were no glaring errors or flaws. There was just a certain superficiality to it. I know that not every book needs to be a work of literary genius, but I would have liked more aesthetics in the writing, especially with the picturesque settings described, from the country garden loveliness of England to the exotic, colorful Thailand.
The story was also very focused on the plot. While the characters must have undergone some serious changes in their thinking and their views on life through the drastic changes that affected them, we only perceive this through the external events of the characters' lives. The only insight we have into their inner selves are shallow mentions of emotion.
However, with that said, the story was entertaining, with many unsuspected twists and turns. While the emotions are not very well explained, there are definitely some deep changes in the lives of the characters. There is definitely tragedy and twisted love and deep sorrow. There is also quite a bit of melodrama, which at times seemed unrealistic to me, but was for the most part entertaining.
Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed the dramas of The Orchid House. However, I wish that the story had more richness and depth.
Warnings: Scene of sensuality, some off the page stuff, some language, some violence