ORCHID THIEF: A True Story of Beauty and ObsessionSUSAN ORLEAN Book Number: 86904 Product format: Paperback
"You have to admire an author who absolutely hates mucking around in scum-covered, alligator-infested waters, with companions as dubious as a work party from a local prison, yet does so to capture the story." With an eye for the incongruous and in convincing detail here is Florida's beauty, thick, intricate, lush and rich as a backdrop to an eccentric, illuminating and hilarious book, as bewitching as the rare specimens it describes. We journey with Orlean through a strangely fascinating subculture, led by the title character, a charismatic plant smuggler of orchids in this rather exotic read. A deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroch leads her on an unforgettable tour of America's strange flower-selling subculture, along with the Seminoles who help him, and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end author and reader will have more respect for underdog determination in this journey full of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness and backstabbing. Orlean first met Laroch when visiting Florida to write for the New Yorker about his arrest for stealing rare Ghost Orchids from a nature reserve. They go together into a world of orchid hunters, breeders and showmen, their rivalries, vendettas and smuggling and an obsessive world of the collector and the haunting beauty of the flowers themselves. 300pp in paperback. Remainder mark.
Published price: £10.99
Bibliophile price: £7.50