Orchid & The Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes

Orchid & The Wasp

“Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.” – Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot SeeAn unforgettable young woman navigates Dublin, London and New York, striving to build a life raft for her loved-ones amidst economic and familial collapse.In this dazzlingly original debut novel, award-winning Irish writer Caoilinn Hughes introduces a heroine of mythic proportions in the form of one Gael Foess. A tough, thoug...

Details Orchid & The Wasp

TitleOrchid & The Wasp
Release DateJul 10th, 2018
GenreFiction, Cultural, Ireland, Contemporary, Did Not Finish, Literary Fiction, European Literature, Irish Literature, Family

Reviews Orchid & The Wasp

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister
    4 stars to the character study, Orchid & the Wasp! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Gael Foss is at the center of Orchid & the Wasp, and the book follows her life from middle childhood through early adulthood. Gael and her younger brother, Guthrie, are living in Dublin with their parents who are very focused on their careers and not necessarily the family or the children. Guthrie is needy. He has somatic complaints that turn into genuine illness, and Gael is prot...
  • Liz Barnsley
    This is a beautiful literary novel with one of the most powerful character voices I’ve seen in a while. Hugely likely to be a divisive character, Orchid and the Wasp follows Gael Foess, as she rockets through life, sure of herself but also losing parts of herself to her determination to help her brother, even when he doesn’t really want to be helped.This is a story with a rich, vivid sense of place and character sense of self. I found Gael ha...
  • Rebecca Foster
    Gael Foess, the antiheroine of Caoilinn Hughes’ debut novel, is a trickster. When we first meet her in Dublin in 2002, the 11-year-old is promptly kicked out of school for trying to sell other girls “virginity pills.” As the years pass we see her con her way into a London Business School interview, self-assuredly teach a literature class when her professor doesn’t show up, pretend to be a journalist to get an exclusive interview, and use ...
  • Gumble's Yard
    “What I do, Gael, has taught me something no university on the planet could have had on syllabus. And that is we have a simple choice to make. Do we aspire to have worth and influence and risk tragedy; or do we aspire towards love and togetherness and risk that it won’t have been enough. You can’t have both aspirations equally weighted.” Gael couldn’t respond to this. She didn’t know what he was asking …. [she] stood up .. and Jarle...
  • MisterHobgoblin
    Orchid and the Wasp is a completely character driven novel. We spend ten or so years in the company of Gael Foess, a smart, sassy Irish girl growing up through the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger. We open with Gael as an 11 year old girl selling “virginity” pills to her school friends to restore their hymens. Whether they work or not is immaterial – they work for Gael. Then we meet Gael’s immediate family, her father Jarlath, a senior b...
  • Paula Bardell-Hedley
    We meet eleven-year-old Gael Foess and her younger brother Guthrie, the children of wealthy but aloof parents (Jarleth, an arrogant and controlling investment banker for Barclays, and Sive, a self-absorbed but gifted principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra) at the point when she is expelled from primary school for running a business flogging “virgin pills” to her classmates. The story begins in 2002, at the tail-end of the firs...
  • Katie B
    I thought for sure when I read the synopsis it would be right up my alley but unfortunately I just never felt a connection with this book. I normally love books that explore family dynamics throughout the years and having most of the story take place in Ireland should have been an added bonus but I was bored for just about the entire book. I was never able to care about Gael or her family or what happened to them. Disappointing because I think th...
  • Peter
    EpisodicCaoilinn Hughes has written a character-rich, poetic story that somehow left me feeling slightly underwhelmed and searching for a meaning in the book. The title refers to the metaphor of the Orchid and the Wasp as an assemblage, a de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation between an orchid and a wasp, as defined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. The hypothesis is that they each depend so much on each other, they start to redefi...
  • J.D. Dehart
    Orchid and the Wasp is a well-written character study. The novel accomplishes a description of a person and the places she travels in life.Hughes shows talent in this literary novel, a book that will surely be enjoyed by readers in search of realistic fiction and quality writing.
  • Krista
    She's wearing the interview shoes. No bandages. No stockings. No ointment or relief. When she put the shoes back on, the pain reminded her of a wasp sting: the sharp difference in positions of attack and defense. In the afterword of Orchid & The Wasp, author Caoillin Hughes notes that “Gilles Deleuze's and Felix Guattari's concept of the orchid and the wasp inspired this book.” I also noted, when adding Hughes' book to my Goodreads account, t...
  • ns510
    If you love character-driven literary works of fiction, this will be right up your street. Gael Foess, our protagonist, is a bold, enterprising schemer. We meet her when she is ten years old, offering to sell virginity pills to her fellow classmates. The novel takes us through the next ten years of her life, encompassing the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger in Ireland through to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement in America. She schemes her...
  • Sue
    With apologies for name-checking another author in the first sentence, I enjoyed this book in the way I enjoy books by Ali Smith and I mean that as a huge compliment. I am a fan of wordplay and Caiolinn Hughes’ novel has something to love on every page - stylish and classy writing. The central character Gael engaged me from the beginning, her upbringing having instilled in her the belief that anything she achieves will be by her own wits. Thoug...
  • Chrissie
    With a bewildering narrative tone, Orchid and the Wasp misses the mark for me. If this book and I met at the library, I would probably just smile and nod before politely walking away. Orchid and the Wasp and I are not simpatico. In that light, I'll keep this brief.My main issue with the novel is not in the concept—for I found the barebones outline to be interesting, or at least to have the potential for interesting. I don't know that I even min...
  • Minerva Spencer
    I thought this book was both lyrical and gut-wrenching. Hughes's writing is truly beautiful and I found myself stopping to enjoy a sentence just like you might savor a rich, delicious mouthful of food. Anyhow, I know there is some dialect in the book but it's pretty evident what it means. If you watch BBC programs you'll be fine when it comes to doing your own translation. This isn't the kind of book you read in one sitting. Gael is a handful and...
  • Jennifer Jimenez
    I cannot believe what a hard time I've had reading this book. I think normally I would have given up on a book like this way in the beginning instead of wasting my time, but I was hoping that the story would have some kind of payoff. LIKED: I enjoyed the plot, and the idea behind the writing. I enjoy following families through the years and reading family sagas and getting involved with the characters whether I like them or not (even if this book...
  • Katherine
    Young and motivated, Gael Foess attempts to help her family during the recession with her own sharp intellect in this bright and brimming debut. Off the bat Gael wears her genius boldly. Suited with two independently successful parents and a sensitive younger brother, her family never praises her, but instead fosters a unique type of care and lessons. That is until her father, a banker, packs up and leaves. It's before this point though that Gael...
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Her only brother. She’d imagined lesions on the soft tissues of his personality.'In Caoilinn Hughes’ debut novel, we are introduced to Gael Foess an intelligent, tough young woman who is good at lots of things. Gael knows it takes more than talent, skills to make a rich life. Her brother Guthrie suffers from an unusual illness his choices narrow his life, dull his talent, his brilliance. Gae...
  • Sandra
    Sorry but i just couldn't get into this book. Gave up at 40%. Sounded great from the description but it just wasn't for me at this time.
  • Angie
    My experience reading about Gael has been puzzling. I repeatedly put the book down in the first 100 pages, rolling my eyes, reading something else. Gael as an 11-year-old is odious, her relationships with the males in her life overly sexualized, both explicitly and in the rich metaphorical language that Hughes uses in lieu of Gael's missing humanity. But Gael grew and changed, and, while I never came to like her, I was intrigued by her, by the ba...
  • Cian O hAnnrachainn
    Appropriate somehow to tackle a book with poetic prose as dense as ULYSSES with Bloomsday just behind us. Caoilinn Hughes is a poet, and her prose has the lyrical quality of poetry. It makes for a difficult read, however, not unlike walking through a thick swamp of words that string together so prettily but confuse the reader when it comes to telling a story. I still don't understand the significance of the title - ORCHID AND THE WASP. Gael Foess...
  • Mary Lou
    Orchid and the Wasp is a captivating work, with its delicate but straight- talking style and fascinating characters. Gael, in particular, bursts into your life and from the outset this feels like a smart and funny novel, and not just for the sake of it.Caoilinn Hughes makes no allowances for her readers, hers is a book which relates conversations between characters first and explains the background later. The musical allusions are pleasing, notew...
  • Kathleen
    I have complicated feelings about this novel. It's well written and I was engaged throughout. I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to. I love a book with an anti-hero, and Gael fits that description, as expected. I appreciate that the personalities of the siblings are far from stereotypical gender roles. The older sister is the ruthless opportunist and her younger brother Guthrie wears his heart on his sleeve. Unfortunately, none of the charac...
  • Jade
    Caoilinn Hughes is a brilliant writer. I wanted to highlight half the book just for her ability to create literary brilliance. However, despite the brilliance, the plot that I thought that was right up my alley, and the interesting characters, I just couldn’t really get into this book. But as with most books I start, I pushed myself to finish, feeling guilty that I wasn’t rushing to finish while also feeling guilty that I couldn’t just give...
  • Kaelan Rhywiol
    The author's voice is powerful and enveloping. One finds oneself fascinated and needing to know what happens next to this odd main character. There's quite a bit of Christian faith in the book, be aware of that going in. A very good read.
  • Irene O'Hare
    I got this book for free through Penguin's First to Read program. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this one,mostly because of the main character. Gael is an industrious, determined young woman whose actions are both awful and baffling. She lies, steals, and cheats to get ahead but her motivations are not entirely clear, which makes a lot of her actions hard to understand or excuse. The plot also feels a little stunted and is missing chunks that I'm ...
  • Siobhan
    Orchid & The Wasp is a novel about what people want, the means of getting there, and what you don't really know about your loved ones. It follows Gael Foess, daughter of a banker and a composer and sister to a fragile younger brother Guthrie, as she grows up in Ireland, moves to London and New York, and battles to get what she wants and what she wants for other people.Gael is an interesting protagonist, forceful and chancy, cynical and often misg...
  • Barbara Rohde
    This book follows the lives of the Foess family: Sive is the mother and conductor of a symphony orchestra, Jarleth the father is an investment banker, Gael is the precocious daughter and Guthrie the delicate son. Mostly we follow Gael from an eleven year old through to adulthood growing up in Dublin, Ireland but later moving to London and then New York. Guthrie is her younger brother who has fits and thinks he has epilepsy. Sive is often absent a...
  • Elaine's Reviews
    The Orchid and the Wasp is the story of Gael Foess and her family, rich banker dad Jarlath, orchestral conductor mum Sive and delicate younger brother Guthrie. Gael's parents are frequently absent, either physically or mentally/emotionally from the children and Gael seems a lot older than her years. The story takes place during the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger, an time of major financial upheaval in Ireland for everyone. I found this book to...
  • Ruth
    I was set to really enjoy this book because of the people that had recommended it to me, but somehow, as the novel progressed, I became less enthusiastic. I wanted more of the story and less of the narrative. Although admittedly brilliantly written, I found that sometimes it was trying too hard: to be clever, to be witty, to have a different take on things. I appreciate that I am probably going to be in the minority, but I really didn't enjoy thi...