Black Orchids, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


When the genteely impoverished and rebellious Evelyn marries the charming Emil, scion of a privileged Sinhalese family, she thinks that her dream of a life in England can now at last come true.

So the family travel, with their young son Milton, from Ceylon to Tilbury Docks.

But this is England in the 1950s and, no matter how hard Evelyn wishes that it would, England does not take kindly to strangers, especially families who are half black and half white.A profound and moving novel, this is the story about the search to feel at home in your own skin.


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Review by

This is the first novel I have read by this author. It is set in both Ceylon (as it was then called) and England and covers a period of twenty five years from the 1940s in Ceylon, to England from the 1950s to the 1970s and then back to Ceylon. I was really drawn in from the beginning of the story. The main character Evelyn is an English girl born and raised in Ceylon. The country is on the verge of independence and Evelyn's family is set to return to England when she meets and falls in love with Emil Raymundo, a Sinhalese man from a wealthy family. As a result she refuses to marry the kind but dull Tommy and marries Raymundo in spite of the opposition of his family. They leave Ceylon in the 1950s with their son Milton and later have a daughter Vanessa. I enjoyed the first half of the book which described life in Britain in the 50s for a mixed race family. Raymundo's flamboyance is disliked both by his family and the British and there are some beautaifully described scenes such as sports day at their son's boarding school. but without revealing too much of the story, I felt that the book lost its way a little in the second half and was not so convincing. But I still in the end thought it was worth reading and would be interested to read another of this author's books as a point of comparison.

Review by

Sri Lanka/Ceylon. Milton, Verena, Evelyn and Emil and racism

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