Bookclub Questions for ‘The Orchid House’ (Hothouse Flower)

1) How does the myth of the black orchid at the beginning of the book contribute and add to your understanding of the novel’s meaning?

2) At the start of the book, Julia is suffering from a tragic loss. Do you think her grief is sympathetically portrayed?

3) The class structure during the Second World War plays a major part in the plot. How do you feel the war changed the relationships between master and servant?

4) How do you feel the exotic setting of Thailand and Wharton Park in the English countryside, contribute to the novel’s atmosphere?

5) One of the main themes of the novel is duty versus love. Do you feel that Harry made the right decision?

6) The Orchid House has a dual narrative, set in past and present. Discuss and compare the lives of Olivia and Julia. Do you think the modern woman’s comparative freedom has made our lives happier?

7) Loyalty is another theme for The Orchid House. How did this impact on the storyline? Is it always best to tell the truth, or to tell a lie to protect?

8) The Orchid House has a redemptive ending. Do you feel that this was realistic? Can the past ever be forgiven and forgotten?