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Orchid House [Paperback]

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Item description for Orchid House by Cindy Martinusen Coloma...

When Julia Bentley travels to the Philippines to bury her grandfather, she stays in the family mansion he left behind when he went into exile, and discovers a way of life that combines gaiety and a love of nature with danger.

Publishers Description

Love in a foreign land. A decaying hacienda full of secrets. And a woman searching for the story of her life.

A funeral and some family business--that's what Julia Bentley expects when she travels to the Philippines to bury her grandfather. She hopes for a brief adventure, a distraction from her most recent failed relationship and her loose-ends California life. Maybe even a chance to meet some distant relatives she's never known.

Instead, she discovers a place where past and present, Spanish and Asian, primitive and civilized mingle in a melange as spicy and colorful as the paella her relatives dish up for special occasions. A place where some children hitch rides on cattle and others wield loaded guns. Where guerillas lurk in the jungle, and volcanoes and governments are threatened to blow. Where stories haunt her ancestral home--the grand but decaying Hacienda Esperanza, Plantation of Hope--and danger lurks behind every tree. Love and orchids bloom in places she never thought to look.

How can a land so foreign, and so troubled, fill her with a strange peace? And would staying mean risking her life . . . or finding it at last?

Citations And Professional Reviews
Orchid House by Cindy Martinusen Coloma has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Publishers Weekly - 10/15/2007 page 37
  • Romantic Times - 03/01/2008 page 64

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   332
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.35" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.89"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2008
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  1595541519  
ISBN13  9781595541512  

Availability  0 units.

More About Cindy Martinusen Coloma

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Cindy Martinusen Coloma is a bestselling author and has written twelve novels including Beautiful, The Salt Garden, Orchid House, and Winter Passing. She lives in Redding, California, with her husband and four children.

Cindy Martinusen Coloma has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Women of Faith (Thomas Nelson)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Romance > Contemporary > General
2Books > Subjects > Romance > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Fiction > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Fiction > General Christian > Contemporary

Reviews - What do customers think about Orchid House?

A woman explores her heritage in the Philippines and finds unexpected romance  Jul 14, 2008
Romance, political intrigue and a woman's discovery of her heritage are the themes that wind through Cindy Martinusen's beautifully detailed ORCHID HOUSE.

Julia Bentley is still stinging from a broken relationship with a man with whom she expected to spend the rest of her life. When Julia's grandfather dies, she is charged with traveling 6,000 miles to the Philippines to oversee his funeral arrangements. She also must decide what to do with Hacienda Esperanza, "the plantation of hope," her family's lovely but dilapidated estate.

New to the exotic islands, Julia feels as if she had come home. As "Captain Morrison's granddaughter" she is loved and made much over by the women of the hacienda and relatives she has never known. Life in San Francisco recedes, and a new chapter in Julia's life begins. "The thought of her life in the past few years was like a painting, drained of nearly all color."

The Philippines are even more appealing for Julia due to a handsome --- and single --- lawyer, Markus Santos, and it's love at first sight. Laudably, Martinusen adeptly avoids the "I hate him/I love him" course of events that turn so many plots into a cliché.

What is most appealing about ORCHID HOUSE is its beautiful settings --- the lush island, the mayhem of Manila, the details about the Filipino people and their traditions (including an evenhanded portrayal of a violent cockfight witnessed by Julia). Readers' mouths will water at the descriptions of halo-halo (Filipino ice cream with fruit, beans and jam) and the spices of Filipino cuisine. The author has done her homework about the physical details, and she uses them liberally in her storyline. Occasionally, she slips into too much description --- lists of spices, for example --- instead of integrating them naturally into the story, which can slow the pacing.

Martinusen uses the phrase "a land to redeem" about the Philippines and unpacks that by showing the political unrest bubbling just under the surface. It takes a while to get into Manalo's story, and a little more setup would have cleared away some of the confusion I felt about him at the beginning. She portrays well his feelings of irresolution between his country and its demands and his family, and his gradual weariness with his work toward a Communist state. Martinusen does a nice job showing his motivations for good, even as he is drawn into so much that is so bad: "He hoped that by his necessary sins, his sons might one day walk a path of clear integrity without constant questioning and regret."

An interesting side theme is the contrast between the "normal" lives of children growing up in the hacienda and the fractured lives of the children groomed to become soldiers in a guerilla village of Barangay Mahinahon. When Julia asks if the two groups of children play together, Markus replies: "The children are very separate, very different. Their minds are molded to see life in completely different ways."

Although many parts of the novel are intriguing, the romance and the plot might have benefited from more tension. Neither quite catches fire (despite the political unrest and threats of a volcano ready to erupt at any moment). The reader will also have to suspend disbelief when Julia mimics a family yarn passed down for generations and discovers a missing orchid while out for an impromptu swim. It's a stretch.

Martinusen's most engaging moments come when she creates the stories Julia is told by the women of the hacienda. "This is a land of myth and folklore," Markus tells her, and the legends and family tales she includes provides some of the best moments in the book.

Readers familiar with her earlier writing will recognize several of the elements present in Martinusen's Winter Passing trilogy --- a protagonist trying to connect with the past, a storyline rich in detail, and interesting insights about what motivates good people to do bad things. But what is most intriguing about this story is Julia's discovery of herself through a past she never knew she had. "We don't always realize what is ours until finally we find it," says Markus. After completing Martinusen's novel, readers may find themselves more eager to explore their own heritages, even if their past lacks such a colorful backdrop.

--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
Stunning!  May 20, 2008
Hoping for a break from the disappointments in her life in California, Julia Bentley accompanies her grandfather's body to the Philippines for his burial beside his beloved Filipino wife.

Emman of the village Barangay Mahinahon, is a boy with a man's responsibilities. Trained as a fighter, Emman can't wait for the American granddaughter of the famous Captain Morrison to return and fulfil his role as her protector and defender.

Not everyone is happy with Julia's return and the hope it engenders in the people of Hacienda Esperanza, her ancestral home. Manolo, the infamous leader of the Red Bolo communist guerrillas, knows he must deter Julia from staying, any way he can.

Cindy Martinusen reveals the exotic beauty, generous hospitality and heartbreaking history of the Philippines in this stunning tale that enthralled me from start to finish.

Orchid House weaves the lessons of the past into hope for the future as Julia learns the history of her grandparents and discovers the mystique of the ageing home that is her inheritance and a haven for her Filipino family and community. Cindy skilfully tells the story through the eyes of Julia, Emman and Manolo, providing astonishing depth to each event and creating great compassion in the reader for each character and their circumstances. Through the pages of Orchid House I was transported to a land of despair and hope, magnificent physical beauty and volcanic destruction, a generous compassionate people and the home of child warriors. Cindy writes with an elegance and insight that captivated my heart and soul as surely as each of her characters did. If you read the acknowledgements, you know there is a bit of the author's own story in this book which only adds to its appeal! Do not miss this gem of a tale about love, sacrifice and above all.... hope.
Her latest and greatest! Wonderful!!  Apr 10, 2008
Sorry-couldn't figure out how to change the title of Humor Lover to something more appropriate for this novel--please don't let that be a disconnect from this wonderful, literary fiction.

I've always been a fan of Cindy Martinusen's beautiful, lyrical writing, but with Orchid House, she's gone above and beyond her other novels. This is SO much more than a "swirling romance" as PW dubbed it!

In Orchid House, three people from different worlds collide on the lands of Hacienda Esperanza: an American woman who travels to the Philippines to fulfill her grandfather's final request, a Communist guerrilla longing to leave his exiled life in the jungle once he fulfills one final mission, and a boy soldier, who vows to protect the new "Dona" of the hacienda--even with his own life.
One night of prayer across the generations, a rare orchid unseen for decades, and the return of an old man's remains to the land he once helped save will answer for them all whether restoration can be found in such a land of bloodshed and blessing, in this rich, cultural tale redolent with atmosphere where tragedy and beauty bloom on the same tree.
What a gorgeous, sumptuous book. Excellent!

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