The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson

The Orchid GirlsThe Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of a 3.5

Molly and Grace are completely different. Molly is a mess, an alcoholic who can’t hold down a job, while Grace is the Queen of Clean, a successful and only promising to go higher, food blogger and social media beauty who is also the wife of the possible next Mayor of London. No one would ever assume that these two polar opposite women could even have been connected. But they were. When they were teenagers they were best friends, lovers, a budding romance trying to survive in a world that told them they were wrong, disgusting, abominations. They dubbed ‘The Orchid Girls’ along with another teenager called Charlotte. When Charlotte went missing and then turned up dead, the newspapers coined the name for the three girls due to a tattoo they each had done. Molly can only remember parts of what happened, when she finds Grace living in London too, she is thrown back into the feelings that she had half a life ago, and she needs answers if she is to finally put the guilt and fear behind her. Grace gets pulled into Molly’s need to discover what really happened that day, as when they left Charlotte, she was fine. While Grace does want to know what happened, she holds her new persona and life much higher than that. She’s moved on, gotten past the awfulness of what happened to Charlotte, Molly is only going to ruin things for her. When another young girl goes missing, very similarly to the way Charlotte did, both women can’t help but get pulled into the story, as if they are reliving their own turmoil again. Will they discover who did it and what really happened? Will Grace be able to save face for her public profile and her husbands? Will Molly get what she’s always wanted – Grace?

So when I first started reading this, I found it to be very dark, what with Molly’s alcohol addiction and inability to function in life, and Grace’s obvious denial about everything, preferring to believe that she was a totally different person that the young teenager she once was. I was faced with two women who had obviously dealt with a trauma in totally different ways, that’s to say, that Molly totally hasn’t dealt with anything at all, she has instead preferred to drink away the pain, fear and guilt associated with her teenage years. While Grace has literally become another person. Neither way is a healthy way of dealing with anything and this is showcased in Grace’s gradual breakdown, while Molly goes the opposite route, choosing instead to attempt to get her life together. Granted she only does this because Grace could never be seen with a total mess.

This brings me to the next thing I want to talk about. Molly’s undeniable obsession with Grace, or at least her massive obsession with what the girls had when they were teenagers. She’s never let it go, it’s not just the trauma of what happened to Charlotte that she can’t wrap her head around, the pain and fear of how things were left between her and Grace actually, dare I say, takes precedence over the unknown of what happened to Charlotte. Her obsession is palpable, it’s this real thing that breathes and moves and exists almost of it’s own accord. It becomes slightly terrifying at times because no stable person would do what she is doing, I found that I actually really feared for Molly because she obviously couldn’t see the power and pull that Grace’s husband had and she had no idea what could have happened to her.

I actually felt for Grace at times. She is striving to literally be perfect. The perfect wife, perfect person, perfect influencer, perfect social media princess. Her thoughts are all for how she MUST be perfect because anything less will tarnish Richard’s reputation and image. Richard doesn’t help with this either, he literally berates her and treats her like a child if she hasn’t been on social media enough, if she’s had to postpone a meeting because of life, or if she *gasp* is seen having a wine or a cigarette. She has such fear of stuffing up, of him finding out the truth about her past, that it’s like she walks on eggshells constantly so as not to rock the boat at all. Richard annoyed me, I understand that he was running for the position of Mayor of London, but when your wife takes a nosedive and is doing things completely out of character, instead of treating it like an inconvenience with the overhanging threat of ‘you better not fuck this up’ bouncing around the walls unspoken, you should actually sit down, take some time and find out what exactly is going on. Grace goes completely goes off the rails to her normal image and Richard is constantly treating it like an inconvenience and berating her like a child because it might make him look bad.

Ellis. What can I say about beautiful, charming, wonderful Ellis. I loved her character. She is the epitome of a selfless person with a need to help those going down the same path she did. Though this love is tarnished slightly when I began to doubt who was being honest. We are faced with the fact that someone has taken photos of Grace and Molly together, and it wasn’t the journalist that has been stalking them, it was someone else. So who could have done it?

The story itself was intriguing, though I found that the story began to go around in circles. There was a stop, a point where the story stayed stagnant and we were just watching the effects that the threat of a leaked secret from so long ago was effecting Molly and Grace. I felt like the story could have been shorter as we just began to go around in circles. I have to admit, the mystery of what really happened to Charlotte was a good one. I didn’t work it out until just before the reveal which was fantastic. Though we never even get small crumbs throughout the story, it’s just recapping what they remember, it’s not until the last 10% odd of the book that we actually get more of the story, more of what really happened. This I found kind of annoying and killed the pacing of the book a bit.

This was an intriguing story, with a fantastic reveal and a good look at what not dealing with something can do. Showing how it can fester and slowly destroy you piece by piece. It also shows us the stigma that can still today, be attached to someone with a different sexual preference than heterosexual, it shows us how a parent’s beliefs and their actions can severely impact and destroy a child. It also shows, that no matter how hard you try to forget, to drink it away, to pretend it never happened, the truth will eventually come out.

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