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Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Lady's Slipper...Review

About the book:
1660. King Charles II has returned from exile, but memories of the English Civil War still rankle. There are old scores to settle, and religious differences threaten to overturn a fragile peace. 

When Alice Ibbetson discovers a rare orchid, the Lady’s Slipper, growing in a wood belonging to Richard Wheeler, she is captivated by its beauty— though Wheeler, a Quaker, is determined to keep the flower where God intended it to grow. Knowing that the orchid is the last of its kind, she steals the flower, little dreaming that her seemingly simple act will set off a chain of events that will lead to murder and exile, and change her life forever…

This one sounds so good, and from an historical standpoint it is.  It's a fascinating account of England in the 17th century as it recovers from Oliver Cromwell's parliamentary rule.  The novel also explores the origins and establishment of the Quaker religion.  I thought that using a rare flower as a main plot device was certainly unique and unusual and was one reason I was drawn to the book. The writing is lyrical and the descriptions vivid.

However, the story itself was simply not something that ultimately appealed to me.  I didn't really care for the characters and found myself more annoyed than enthralled.  This isn't a fast read, it's more of an ambitious one that can hamper a reader's enjoyment.  The sex scenes were unexpected, unnecessary and quite vulgar in their descriptions. 

I found the religious aspect fascinating, especially the lengths one character went to in order to become a Quaker and the ease with which another ultimately disregarded his Quaker faith. 

Thanks to Reading Group Gold (Macmillan/St. Martin's Press) for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Deborah Swift here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/11

* *
2/5 Stars


  1. I don't think this is the book for me. Thanks for your review!

  2. For a moment I thought the book would be right up my alley, but on further reading perhaps not? I do love a good historical fiction though.

  3. I want to give it 3 1/2 stars, it was good but very long and drawn out. The story was interesting, but the descriptions were huge and went on and on and on. Alice is lost and thinks she can somehow find herself in the propagation of a rare orchid, but she discovers that it only brings pain into her life. Richard is also lost and looking for something to help him get over the war and the horrors he had to live. They both need something, but neither knows what.
    Geoffrey is a piece of work who desperately is looking for a cure to his scaly skin. His search drives him a bit mad and the death of a old women drives him over the edge. The story revolves around the orchid and everyones obsession with it, Alice wants it for her sister, Geoffrey for its medicinal properties, Richard for its place in the world and the old women for its herbal value. Alice does realize she should never have touched it in the first place, but only after it was too late to change her future.
    Many innocent people are hurt because of this flower and because of the actions of others, this is how real life works most of the time. The end is good and even with the on and on and on the book went, I enjoyed the story and the ending. If I hadn't needed to review it I'm not sure I would have worked through it so fast. Lots of pages and many could have been cut to allow the story to be more easily discovered by the reader.