I really enjoyed this. Uses the biography of a modern day orchid thief as the fabric into which author weaves interesting history and anecdotal tidbits. Language gets very course - but only when the person referred to speaks that way.
This is the true story of a writer who investigates an old theft in the Florida Everglades. The character she's writing about is truly a character. This starts slow but i found myself fascinated with the orchid world and how the people who love them - who are obsessed with them, operate. I now own about 20 or so orchids myself; that's since I read the book! This was edifying/enriching but a very strange topic.
Researching and writing about the John Laroche, orchid thief and more, the author adds history about other thieves, orchids, Seminole life, and much about the beautiful Fakahatchee Strand. A mercurial character, Laroche considers himself more intelligent than most men. He loves orchids and searches them out wherever he can find them, primarily in Fakahatchee where he hikes about looking for the elusive ghost orchid and something that no one else has discovered. As the story begins he is being prosecuted for stealing orchids and other plants from the Fakahatchee.
As the author encounters other orchid growers, collectors and lovers she finds herself drawn ever closer to the background of orchids and those who love it. Original orchids were plucked from the wild but cloning and reproduction of modern orchids has increased the variety to thousands. Nevertheless, many wild orchids have been lost due to those who would remove all they found from any given spot.
For me, this was a most enjoyable read. Who ever knew people could be so passionate about orchids as to kill others, steal prize winners or undermine the efforts of others who want to become part of this enchanting world. Truly this is a good, good read.
This is a very unusual and highly readable book. It's well worth your time, and after you read it, be sure to see the movie, which isn't at all like the book, but is strange and fascinating. Both thumbs up!
I just finished this book tonight and am sitting here pondering what in the world possessed me to order it in the first place. I must have thought it would involve a good mystery or something. I sure didn't expect it to go that deep into orchids, the weirdness of those who worship them, the many illegal ways they're obtained, and talk of a swamp over and over..and over. The main character, John Laroche was boring at best. It's like he used the Indians to do his dirty work and then got off scott free. I sincerely hated this book. I kept reading hoping it would get better but it didn't. I was really disappointed with the ending...the ever elusive ghost orchid that the whole book talked about and never finished with. Just a terrible, terrible book.
I thought this book was great for what it was, but didn't really grab me. Be prepared to read a lot of detail about orchids! I love orchids, have many, and maybe it's the "I don't want to read anything too serious at bedtime" syndrome but it was all a little too detailed and too, well, serious, for me. It's a true story, doesn't appear to follow the movie it references much (Adaptation). Despite the fact that it wasn't the book I was in the mood to read, it is well-written, interesting, and a story that has never been told.
I started reading about this book because I thought I was interested in learning about orchids and some of the culture around them. I found out that I am not *that* interested in orchids and Florida. I read the first 60 pages of this and it took me awhile to get through that. I kept finding other things (any other thing) to do rather than read this book. So, I ended up setting this aside.
The beginning of this book comes off as some strange ode to Florida; this really struck a false note with me because I went to Florida a lot as a kid (my grandparents lived there) and I do not like Florida...I will never like Florida.
After the diatribe about how awesome and unique Florida is the book goes into a ton of detail on orchids. This was kind of cool but it was just too much for me. The way Olean writes is almost overly descriptive; she has a habit of spending a long time describing things and making long lists of items which came off as a bit text-bookish and was just a huge info dump.
Overall this book just wasn't my cup of tea. It was boring and a bit preachy about the wonders of Florida. I would recommend reading the first chapter of the book before buying and seeing how you like it; the first chapter is pretty representative of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am new to Florida and have just a smattering of knowledge about orchids. The writer hits all the right notes from a little bit of the history of Florida to the underworld of orchid thievery, to the snobishness of some people at orchid shows. The book contains a bibliography, a reader's guide and discussion topics. One reviewer called the book"deliciously weird and compelling." It's a fascinating, absorbing and frequently hilarious true tale.
This book was not what I thought it would be but was a goood read irregardless. It is more of a rambling type journal from the author about not just orchids but about Florida in general. I learned a lot about the importing/stealing of exotic plants and the Seminole tribe in general. If you want something different, this is the book.