The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs WallerThe Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

The Forbidden Orchid

bySharon Biggs Waller

Hardcover | March 8, 2016

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The adventures of a British girl in China, hunting for the orchid that will save her family.

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters growing up in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China, more myth than man. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She 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. She comes to find that both the world and her place in it are so much bigger than she’d ever dreamed. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?
Sharon Biggs Waller moved to England in 2000, where she worked as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. These days she is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a ten-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark. She is the author of three non-fict...
Title:The Forbidden OrchidFormat:HardcoverDimensions:416 pages, 8.56 × 5.81 × 1.38 inPublished:March 8, 2016Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0451474112

ISBN - 13:9780451474117


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Plant hunting can be dangerous! The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller is a historical romance novel set in Edencroft, Kent, England (goes from 1859 through 1862). Elodie Buchanan is the eldest sister (boy died before she was born) at seventeen. Elodie has nine sisters. Their father, Reginald Buchanan, is a plant hunter and only returns once a year (to get mum pregnant again). He now considers himself a man of science (though he used to study theology). Their mother is a bishop’s daughter. She thought she was marrying a future priest (you have to feel sorry for her). Reginald does not understand girls and is distant with them. Instead of a dollhouse for the girls, he brought a Wardian case set up a fairy garden (only Elodie appreciated it) with delicate plants in it. The parents argue and Reginald is off again. This time he does not return home. Something happens to him in China, and he will not come home. Elodie finds out that Reginald reneged on a contract for a rare orchid to Erasmus Pringle. He either has to return to China for the orchid or pay the amount in the contract (which he does not have). Elodie talks her father into returning to China with her by his side (Reginald really does not wish to return). Her father nixes the idea of Elodie going with him. Elodie helps him get ready for the trip. They have to hurry because Reginald needs to find the orchid before a rival plant hunter. Whoever retrieves it first, gets the money (and then the father will still be in hot water—debtor’s prison). Elodie is sent home just before her father sets sail. An encounter at the train station has Elodie sneaking aboard the ship. Elodie is in for the adventure of a lifetime and she cannot wait! The Forbidden Orchid is interesting, but I did find the novel a little slow (and predictable). I could have told you how this novel would end from the time Elodie stowed away on the ship. The descriptions of the orchids were just lovely. It was also interesting to find out more about the life of plant hunters. Nowadays, we just go to our local nursery to purchase flowers. I found the Victorian viewpoints on orchids to be ridiculous (I wanted to deck Deacon Wainwright, the pompous blowhard). I give The Forbidden Orchid 3.75 out of 5 stars. Would I read this book again? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes, and no. I just wanted something more (less predictability). Would I read another book by this author? Maybe (depends upon the subject matter)! I did enjoy the mystery of the missing orchid (someone stole it from Elodie’s Wardian case). I received a complimentary copy of The Forbidden Orchid from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.
Date published: 2016-04-15

Read from the Book

I’d never left Kent in the whole of my life. Edencroft was my life and always would be. I would have loved nothing more than to see Kew for myself. Dash it, I wanted to go farther than Kew. I wanted to feel a real rainforest’s mist on my face and smell the jackfruit trees in their native land and not in a glasshouse, no matter how marvelously built. “I long to go with you, Papa,” I blurted out. “Oh, my dear,” Papa said, his voice wistful. “If you were a boy, I’d take you with me directly you asked.” He smiled. “The things I would show you! But alas, such adventures are not for you. Besides, I need you here to look after Mamma and the girls. You are my eyes and ears whilst I’m away, and I depend on you to remain my steadfast and dependable Elodie.” I felt ridiculous for showing Papa my heart and for making him voice what I loathed to hear: The only way I could make him proud was to remain home, locked like a fairy doll inside of a glass Wardian case, looking after the other fairy dolls. I looked down the road that led to the train station, unable to meet his eyes. “I know, Papa.” “Please tell you mother . . .” He hesitated and glanced at her bedroom windows, where the drapes remained closed. “Never mind. Good-bye, my dear.” He tapped the roof of the carriage with his walking stick, and the driver clucked to his horses. “Good-bye, Papa.” I stood on the gravel drive and watched until the carriage had crested the hill and disappeared down the other side. I wouldn’t see or hear from my father again until April of 1861, when the bailiffs came to take our possessions away.

Editorial Reviews

* "Elodie and Ching Lan are feminists of their era, refusing to bend to the rules and limits placed before them."—Publishers Weekly, starred review* "A historical romance with a strong female protagonist, sure to find fans."—School Library Journal, starred review"The characters are strong and full of life, and the plot combines the perfect amount of both adventure and romance. . . . This book is a must-have."—VOYA"Similar in tone to Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003), this is a perfect read for timid teens who dream of adventure."—Booklist"Well-researched and filled with adventure, romance, and lots of tension—this work of historical fiction has all the elements of an intriguing read."—Kirkus ReviewsA Junior Library Guild Selection Nominated for the American Library Association's Best Fiction for Young Adults List