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Extended Audio Sample The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession Audiobook, by Susan Orlean Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,668 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susan Orlean Narrator: Jennifer Jay Myers Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2002 ISBN: 9780375418785
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A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower—the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii—a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean—and the reader—will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.

In this new edition, coming fifteen years after its initial publication and twenty years after she first met the “orchid thief,” Orlean revisits this unforgettable world, and the route by which it was brought to the screen in the film Adaptation, in a new retrospective essay.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom. The New York Times Book Review
  • Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing. Los Angeles Times
     
  • Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures. The Washington Post Book World
     
  • Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description. Boston Sunday Globe
  • A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great. The Wall Street Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fpat Murray | 2/18/2014

    " LaRoache is a fun character eh? Not nearly enough of him to fill an hour and a half though eh? This book was stolen from me twice, both times i got up to roughly page 87 and the book went missing. About 3 years later I managed to hold onto it long enough to finish. It was worth the collective $15 or so i spent on used copies. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kathleen | 2/6/2014

    " I abandoned the book 1/3 of the way through. I was intrigued by the main character but could not, no matter how hard I tried, get interested enough in the orchid lessons to hang in there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrienne | 2/5/2014

    " A really brilliant book. A wonderful weaving of ethnography, history, botany, and crazy-assed stories that made me feel as though I myself were waist-deep in muddy, alligator-infested swamp, searching for the ineffable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Steph Cooper | 1/30/2014

    " I do not care nearly enough about orchids for this book to have been entertaining. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patty | 1/29/2014

    " Interest true-life characters. I also learned a few things about orchids and Florida. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 1/27/2014

    " I couldn't seem to get into this book, and then it was going to be overdue, so I didn't read much of it. This is a shame, too, because I felt like everyone was depending on me to read this! I skipped this months bookclub because I didn't read it, and Alyson was interested in my response too. Ah, I'm such a disappointment ;( "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katie | 1/16/2014

    " Great material, crumbled in the hands of this writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brigid | 1/14/2014

    " Turns out I didn't really want to read this after all. It is well-written and full of interesting tidbits about the crazy world of orchids. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy Barta | 1/13/2014

    " I like collecting and plants, but this wasn't really a page turner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nina | 12/9/2013

    " As an orchid lover, this was a spectacular read. An intriguing story interwoven with gorgeous and vivid descriptions. Learned loads about Floridian flora and fauna. Also provided a fascinating history of orchidology and the lunacy of orchid fanatics. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 D.L. | 11/20/2013

    " I went straight out and bought an orchid. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Garden Girl | 11/3/2013

    " Enjoyed this very much. Adventure and horticultural information all in one book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty Sutton | 10/9/2013

    " Strange, great story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 9/14/2013

    " DAMN THAT WAS A LOT OF PLANTS "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Megan | 7/22/2013

    " it really pulls you into seeing plant collectors in a different kind of light; i normally tend to stay away from nonfiction novels, but this was a good one. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kelley | 2/23/2013

    " The first few chapters were interesting, but then she went off on a tangent (important to the explanation of plants and things) and lost me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anita | 2/10/2013

    " Very entertaining and I learned a lot about the history and mystique of the orchid "subculture." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kari | 1/9/2013

    " Very interesting nonfiction. I'm going to rewatch Adaptation, which was inspired? by the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joey | 10/19/2012

    " My favourite book ever! The movie based on this book is pretty cool too. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anita Nielson | 1/16/2012

    " This is taking too long to read... ugh. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leonora | 10/26/2011

    " Interesting but I didn't love it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rafael | 8/24/2011

    " Read this to better understand the Charlie Kaufman scriot for Adaptation, and what he had to work with for that script. Interesting anecdotes, but yeah, a whole lot of New York hoo ha. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anna | 5/18/2011

    " I honestly did not think that a book about orchids would be this intriguing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 5/18/2011

    " I was very surprised by how much I learned from this book without my realizing it. Who knew that the orchid world was so dramatic? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robin | 4/17/2011

    " Nobody does Florida quite like Susan Orlean. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenn | 4/13/2011

    " As to be expected, this book taught me a lot about orchids. I went out and purchased an orchid after finishing it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William | 4/6/2011

    " Although some of her long-winded paragraphs drove me mad, this was a generally interesting piece of non-fiction.

    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 3/31/2011

    " One of my favourite books, although it is a little light on story. A fascinating read full of flow. I do, however, love orchids, so I may be biased. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 3/4/2011

    " This is a fascinating story about one of the many fringe hobbyists and eccentrics one rarely hears about or crosses paths with in communities across the world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 2/26/2011

    " I picked this book for my book club to read, and still get ribbed about it to this day. I rather enjoyed it. The book was certainly far superior to its movie, Adaptation, even though the movie did win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Chris Cooper, who deserved it for so many other roles. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 M | 2/19/2011

    " While I continued to turn the pages and found this book pretty engrossing, I didn't love it. I really didn't like any of the characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsey | 2/13/2011

    " Excellent writing and a fascinating story. Some of my favorite books are those about little-known things such as salt, cod, orchids--that reach out and affect or participate in history in ways you wouldn't expect. "

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About the Author
Author Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York.

About the Narrator

Jennifer Jay Myers is an award-winning voice-over artist. She graduated from Northwestern University where she studied singing and acting and then moved to New York to pursue musical theater. Myers has appeared in many shows including Nunsense, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Godspell, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, and Fiddler on the Roof, among others. When she’s not working, she volunteers with animal rescue. She and her husband, writer Chris Grabenstein, share their home with four wonderful rescued animals (three cats and a dog).