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The Forbidden Orchid

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 ratings  ·  244 reviews
Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. 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 s ...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Viking
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  1,144 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
DNF @ 76%

I had been listening to the audiobook but I just kind of lost interest. It wasn’t bad, just didn’t feel like listening anymore as it was headed toward a 3 star rating anyways.
3 stars

Two years ago I fell completely head over heels for Sharon Biggs Waller's debut, A Mad, Wicked Folly. So the fact that I would pick up The Forbidden Orchid was kind of self-evident. Though well-researched and an interesting exposition of the setting, I didn't feel like this book quite lived up to my expectations.

The Forbidden Orchid is kind of an adventure story in China right around the end of the Second Opium War. It starts in Victorian England, where Elodie, in an effort to save her fa
I enjoyed this one, especially the daughter and father relationship. We hardly get to see that played out in books, but this was a good one to read about. Plant hunting isn't something that I think of, but this book made me aware that it is a thing, and a dangerous one at that. Imagine having to find an elusive orchid in a country you just visited. Can be quite terrifying not knowing all the problems or obstacles one can encounter. I couldn't really relate to Elodie. I found her too superior whe ...more
The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
Full Review on The Candid Cover

Prepare to be amazed with this all new historical adventure! The Forbidden Orchid is a one of a kind book all about a hunt for a rare and valuable orchid. An interesting and complex father/daughter relationship makes this book even more believable. Though the book seems incredible already, there are three different settings, including China, making the story unforgettable.

The Forbidden Orchid has such a unique and intriguing concept. This book tells the story of a
Jul 17, 2015 marked it as incomplete
DNF on page 70
*sighs* I feel like I should like this book. It has a pretty cool premise and I love historical YA. Waller also does a great job portraying how difficult it was to empower women in the 1860s. But I just am not clicking with the main character Elodie. All she seems to do is whine and her attachment to the orchid is.. uncomfortable? It's weird and I'd just rather stop reading. I'm still interested in reading her debut though!
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Aww, that ending made me so happy. :'))

- Pace was not fast (or not as fast as I expected), and kind of felt like a slow adventure where you take in the sights rather than jump from place to place.

- Main character, Elodie, is absolutely great. She is dependable, steadfast, and is always there for her sisters and mother. However, as she continues on in her journey she wants more- and this time for herself, rather than other people.

- I love seeing actual historical events in action in these kind
Nicole's Book Diaries
Feb 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Nope...I'm sorry guys but this is not my kind of book.

Unfortunately, I was lured in by the beautiful and gorgeous cover. More unfortunate that the story did not live up to its beautiful cover.

The book was excruciatingly slow and boring for about 60% of it. Most of the action happened after they got to China and then the rest of the book ended up rushed with an abrupt ending.

The character development was lacking and not just for the main character but also for the rest of the characters. There
Mar 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya, historical-ya
Reading this book was an ordeal. With how little China and the rest of Asia is covered in North American history classes, portrayals like this are irresponsible.

I get it, a girl growing up in Victorian England won’t know much about China. But then I have to ask: why send her there? What drives the choice to send her on a mystical~ trip to find a magical flower in an “exotic” land? Adventure? Why China then? I have so many questions, but with such a poorly formed story, I don't know that finding
Nov 13, 2014 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: dnf-2016
DNFed at 59%. JUST SO BORING. I don't care about the characters at all. The writing is good & it was obviously well researched and historically accurate but so. damn. boring. I've been skimming since probably the 40% mark and it's just not worth it. These characters have no personality and I honestly don't care if they find the damn orchid or not. Bummer. ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review coming soon.
rachel ☾
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it
The Forbidden Orchid was a well-written story with a rich, realistic and incredibly detailed historical setting, but it failed to grab my attention. The plotline was not unenjoyable by any stretch of the imagination but it certainly lacked that special something needed to make it truly shine. I just… I didn’t get anything from it. It was one of those rare books that was so easy to fly through but if I had put it down and somehow, accidently, forgot to ever pick it up again, I wouldn’t have spare ...more
Erin Arkin
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love Historical Fiction and when I read the summary of The Forbidden Orchid, I was immediately interested. I loved A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller so there was no question in my mind that I was going to read this book. Also, I kind of love that cover!

The story spends a good amount of time setting up the story. Elodie is the oldest daughter of a plant hunter and is growing up in a small English town in the 1860’s. As you might guess, the era doesn’t really allow girls a lot of freedo
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty sure after A Mad Wicked Folly, but now having read The Forbidden Orchid, I know that Sharon Biggs Waller writes the kind of historical fiction that reminds me why I love the genre! Thoroughly researched, painted so vividly you can feel the earth under your nails and the sea breeze on you face! With amazing & complex characters and a journey that is never as straightforward as you'd expect.

Elodie is the oldest on a family of ten girls with a father that spends most of the time away,
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars. Excellent, excellent book. So close to perfect. I LOVED Elodie, but what kept this from being a perfect book for me is that I lacked an emotional connection to the characters. AGAIN. I am beginning to believe it's me. I mean, the romance was super cute, but I wasn't feeling the chemistry. That said, this is the ONLY part that didn't work for me.

Excellent subject matter, well-researched, perfectly executed story arc, and the book even surprised me a little at the end. I had it all plan
Fictional World Dreamer
Nov 02, 2014 marked it as thank-you-next
I'm sorry to say but this story was a regrettable waste of time. These characters have no personality and it was so. boring. I really love Historical Fiction. But this was just a big lump of dullness to me.
It was a boring and a dreadful story. And I couldn't justified myself to finish it.

I've realized that I'm the black sheep here. But I'm all about honest is the best policy. And because of that I won't even rate this book. This book just wasn't for me.


Plus, the complication a blogger had with t
KL (Cat)
Sep 15, 2015 marked it as to-read
I'm not going to judge since I haven't read it yet, but this book better not romanticise 1860s China, because let's just say that the aftermath of the Second Opium War and its effects on the country was not pretty. ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
This book swings between the highs (atmosphere, detail) and the lows (plodding pace, overwrought descriptions). Still, I liked this story enough for three stars. Review to come.
Jan 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book was a mess.
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a breath of fresh air to the YA historical fiction genre.
And much like These shallow graves, of which it shared a similar vibe, I loved every page. Not to mention just how wonderfully written it was, the words roll off the pages in soft rhythmic patterns designed for perfection. The pacing is slow, but over all it's just a very enjoyable read for fans of historical fiction.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-review
bookworm bites best

Hello my fellow bookworms! You know how sometimes you have read all those books but just don't have the words or time for a full review? I certainly do and thus Bookworm Bites was born. These are essentially mini reviews. Enough to give you a good idea about my feelings though. Hope you enjoy!

mini review

This book exceeded my already high expectations. Thanks to my darling friend Pili, I was introduced to Sharon Biggs Walter with her first book, A Mad Wicked Folly. I loved it. I was expect

Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, signed, giveaway, arc
I am a Victorian period enthusiast. It’s a period in history where the roles of women were evolving; adventure challenged Victorian ideas and socio-cultural understandings; and literature shaped societal outcomes. Similar to traditional Victorian novels, Sharon Biggs Waller’s The Forbidden Orchid reflects traditional tropes commonly found in nineteenth-century literature. Ideally, the author includes a feisty female lead, patriarchy’s fear of female transgression, and the British Empire’s imperi ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sharon's debut young adult novel, A Mad, Wicked Folly  was one of my favorite reads of 2015. Historical novels where women are fighting for their voices are a big "Give me this book now!" Much like Vicky, Elodie is longing for more. She wants to be able to travel the world with her father and find adventure, but it stuck at home caring for her mother and nine younger sisters. Her father (who comes home roughly once a year, impregnates his wife, then leaves again), is a plant hunter an ...more
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book fell short for several reasons.

Firstly, its priorities are all wrong. Considering that the story claims to center around an orchid in China, it should take it much less than over half the book for the characters to actually land in China. Because it takes so long to transport the characters to China, the last 40% feel rushed. After all that buildup, I was left with a deep insatisfaction over character development.

Speaking of character, I know it's because in Vitorian England women were
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
This was an interesting book. I loved the diversity of it. I liked that it was something different than what I was excepting. I liked that it's a book that stands by itself. There's adventures, and history, which I enjoyed. Overall I didn't love it, and but I didn't not like it either. It's a good read that offers something different for YA readers who don't want to read another fantasy, contemporary or dystopian book.

Read my FULL REVIEW here
Meegz Reads
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-paperback
This wasn't a bad book, but it didn't capture me throughout the way other books have. I have read Miss Biggs Waller's other book and I enjoyed that one quite a lot more. This was good, but I found it very slow at the beginning. I quite liked Alex as a character, but he was the only character that I can truly say I really liked. The premise of the book is a good adventure, but I don't know, it just wasn't as good as I was hoping. Good but not fantastic. Not terrible either though. Somewhere in th ...more
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lush, romantic historical YA that employs several of my favorite romance tropes to good effect. Girl "disguised" as a boy? Check. Marriage in name only to prevent scandal? Check. Young woman interested in a life beyond the one society expects of her? Check.

This novel will appeal not just to lovers of YA romance, but to readers of adult historical romance, especially those who prefer their romances "clean".

Victoria (thepetitebookblogger)
Review to come sooner to pub date, but I will say that I really enjoyed this book and would recommend this to everyone.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful historical fiction exploring the culture and history of 1860s England and China. Beautifully written and structured with care, this book is a little slow but worth the read.
Amalie Simper
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book a good historical fiction book. I loved the ending that let us know what was real and what wasn't. This was set right after Charles Darwin came out with his theory of evolution, a woman travels to China to help save her father from financial ruin by helping him find an orchid that will help him make money to pay back a debt. It was eye opening the plant collecting of England throughout history, the opium addiction of China, the way that addiction came about, a women finding a way to be ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars, rounded down.

What I liked:

- the writing was excellent. The author definitely has a way with words, and it was descriptive without being too over the top
- the sweet little dog
- Elodie’s relationship with her sisters
- definitely well researched and portrayed the time period realistically

What I didn’t care for:

- despite the main plotline having to do with going to China to find a rare species of orchid, Elodie didn’t get to China until well over halfway through the book. The beginning w
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YA Buddy Readers'...: The Forbidden Orchid, by Sharon Biggs starting May 13th! 17 21 May 22, 2016 01:31PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Aug 24, 2015 04:40PM  

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Sharon Biggs Waller is the recipient of the Friends of American Writers award and the author of A Mad, Wicked Folly (Viking) and The Forbidden Orchid (Viking), both of which have garnered multiple starred reviews and awards. Her upcoming novel is a young adult contemporary called Girls on the Verge (Holt, April 2019). She's also a magazine journalist and has written several non-fiction books about

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