Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters growing up in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China, more myth than man. 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 sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.
Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. She comes to find that both the world and her place in it are so much bigger than she’d ever dreamed. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
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I’d never left Kent in the whole of my life. Edencroft was my life and always would be. I would have loved nothing more than to see Kew for myself. Dash it, I wanted to go farther than Kew. I wanted to feel a real rainforest’s mist on my face and smell the jackfruit trees in their native land and not in a glasshouse, no matter how marvelously built.
“I long to go with you, Papa,” I blurted out.
“Oh, my dear,” Papa said, his voice wistful. “If you were a boy, I’d take you with me directly you asked.” He smiled. “The things I would show you! But alas, such adventures are not for you. Besides, I need you here to look after Mamma and the girls. You are my eyes and ears whilst I’m away, and I depend on you to remain my steadfast and dependable Elodie.”
I felt ridiculous for showing Papa my heart and for making him voice what I loathed to hear: The only way I could make him proud was to remain home, locked like a fairy doll inside of a glass Wardian case, looking after the other fairy dolls. I looked down the road that led to the train station, unable to meet his eyes. “I know, Papa.”
“Please tell you mother . . .” He hesitated and glanced at her bedroom windows, where the drapes remained closed. “Never mind. Good-bye, my dear.” He tapped the roof of the carriage with his walking stick, and the driver clucked to his horses.
“Good-bye, Papa.” I stood on the gravel drive and watched until the carriage had crested the hill and disappeared down the other side.
I wouldn’t see or hear from my father again until April of 1861, when the bailiffs came to take our possessions away.