Julia Morrison is still grieving the death of her grandfather when she finds out she's the "family representative" for Hacienda Esperanza, the estate he left behind in the Philippines when he went into exile.
On arriving there from San Francisco, Julia finds a mansion replete with kin who tell her legends of her Spanish ancestors, while her grandfather's cryptic notes lead her to seek out an orchid, discovered by an aunt several generations ago, that purportedly can work miracles.
Over the course of settling her grandfather's affairs, Julia finds out she can't own the Hacienda outright, but the more she sees of the country and of her handsome young lawyer, the more she contemplates staying on.
Julia's naivete and attachment to the estate at times prove overly sweet, but her wide-eyed perspective is tempered by depictions of the life of those outside the gates: Emman, a boy growing up outside the mansion who takes it upon himself to protect the American woman, and Manalo, a Communist freedom fighter hoping to place control of the mansion in Filipino hands. The latest swirling romance from Martinusen (Eventide) draws tension from the setting, which includes a smoky threat from a nearby volcano, and from a nicely turned plot. (Feb.)
When youíve been writing a novel for a year and believe - or at least hope - youíve turned in a work of art, and you,re also going through family crisis, no writer wants to hear something like this from her editor. "Now Cindy, elements of the book are really great. But I donít want you to rewrite it. I want you to start over, and then take pieces of this book and put them where they fit."
I couldnít even process those words for a while. And yet she was right. My publisher decided to re-release another novel of mine in the slot that belonged to the "Philippine novel."
It would take two more years for Orchid House to finally reach bookstores.
During that time, my own life changed dramatically. Four trips to the Philippines brought more than research to make the story come to life. It brought my life to new life as well. I am now married to the man who helped me research and write the book.
There are some stories that need time. And Iím grateful that my editor pushed me back to the blank screen to work harder. Iím also grateful for a land that gave me more than I couldíve imagined every taking away.