The Forbidden Orchid

Sharon Biggs Waller. Viking, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-451-47411-7
Seventeen-year-old Elodie’s adventurousness and intellect outpace the constraints Victorian England places on women her age. The oldest daughter in a family of 10 women, Elodie takes on responsibility for everyone when her mother falls ill, and her perpetually absent father jeopardizes them all when he fails to retrieve a rare, expensive orchid for the man who finances his plant-hunting expeditions to China. Elodie risks everything to help her father return to China and pay off his debts by stowing away on a tea clipper with the help of a handsome young Russian named Alex. Once Elodie arrives in China, Waller (A Mad, Wicked Folly) creates a vivid portrait of the country’s landscape and history—and the restrictions women faced there, too—through Elodie’s observations and via her new friend, Ching Lan. The discordant relationship between England’s fascination with China’s many unfamiliar treasures and the Victorian desire to conquer is also front and center. Elodie and Ching Lan are feminists of their era, refusing to bend to the rules and limits placed before them. Ages 12–up. Agent: John M. Cusick, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/07/2015
Release date: 03/08/2016
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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