Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Review: The Orchid Thief

On vacation last week, I took a couple of books with me - both having plants as their main subject.  One book was a field guide to plants and trees in Hawaii.  It proved very handy in identifying much of the plant life along side the road - plants that aren't found growing in Oklahoma, outdoors or in greenhouses.

The other book is a non-fiction novel called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.  (I always want to put an "s" at the end of her last name.)  The story revolves around an Orchid fanatic in south Florida that has stolen some rare Orchids from a protected nature preserve with a plan to clone them and make lots of money.  The author does a wonderful job of pulling in the reader from the first couple of sentences.  I loved the descriptions of this character that I could vividly picture and felt like I knew.  I also loved the portrayal of south Florida, which is unlike any other area I have visited.

It was a really fun read for my trip to Hawaii, too.  Even though the scenery is very different from Florida, I was getting to enjoy orchids growing outdoors in natural settings while reading this book.

There are lots of deviations from the story (which I enjoyed).  Many of these deviations are historical accounts of the Seminole tribes that occupy Florida.  Did you know that they are the one native people who never signed a treaty with the US?  I didn't.

On the downside, by the time I was 3/4 of the way through the book I kind of started to realize that the book wasn't really going anywhere.  When you write fiction, you can do something about that.  When you're a reporter, relaying the true story of a crazy man obsessed with orchids, well...  you can't.

Anyway, I would thoroughly recommend this book to any plant lover who has at times felt "obsessed" with plants (I am one of them), and especially to those who have a great admiration for Orchids.  It is a fun read and easy to identify with the characters, if you happen to be one of these people.

1 comment:

  1. I keep meaning to read this - thanks for the review.