Hothouse Flower

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Rose Impey
Orchard Books
May 2006
Whether it be illegal and illicit orchid growing by grandpa, the hidden box of secrets that grandma has kept, or the secret that forms the backdrop to the over-bearing and over-protective influences exerted over Chloe Wells by her parents � particularly her mother � enigma runs rife in �Hothouse Flower�, the new novel by Rose Impey.

The novel opens dramatically during Chloe�s involvement in a road traffic accident. Chapters are interspersed between past and present and Chloe has all the appearances of a highly intelligent though somewhat insular girl. Conscious of her supposed inadequacies, Chloe is reticent about making friends but soon develops strong bonds with Delia and Robbie, two other children within the hospital.

A clear juxtaposition between the insular and private family life of Chloe and the extrovert school based existence of Robbie is posited. An over-arching question as to what is most natural, normal or grounding for child-development is posed.

The �hothouse� evokes parallels between nature and childhood of the kind that have a great ancestry in children�s literature � think about the woodland environs in �Children of the New Forest�, the fervour of natural life and the cycle of the seasons in �The Wind in the Willows� and of course the regenerative qualities nature holds in �The Secret Garden�. Here the parallel between nature and childhood is restricted and confined within the heat of an oppressive domesticity, analagous perhaps of our society whose legislative aims for child protection are perhaps limiting growth and development.

Towards the end of the novel as the secret that Chloe�s mother, Marian has been keeping is revealed, the �hothouse� that has played so formative a role in Chloe�s childhood years is shattered. A well-realised, thought-provoking and highly unusual novel.

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This page contains a single entry by Jacob published on July 1, 2006 10:39 AM.

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