Orchid & the Wasp by Caoilinn Hughes

Orchid & the Wasp

Dazzling and daringly original, this debut novel tells the story of an unforgettable young woman’s coming of age across Dublin, London, and New YorkOrchid & the Wasp brings to life the spiky and passionate voice of Gael Foess as she struggles to become her own person in the face of her dysfunctional family. Her parents are both more focused on their work than their children, and her younger brother, Guthrie, vulnerable and unwell, has no one el...

Details Orchid & the Wasp

TitleOrchid & the Wasp
Release DateJul 10th, 2018
GenreFiction, Cultural, Ireland, Contemporary, European Literature, Irish Literature

Reviews Orchid & the Wasp

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    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...
  • Peter
    EpisodicCaoilinn Hughes has written a character-rich, poetic story that somehow left me feeling slightly underwhelmed and searching for 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 redefine...
  • 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...
  • 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
    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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Meike
    This wonderful Irish novel shines with its complex, contradictory characters - none of them are purely good or bad, and all of them fail gloriously to live up to their self-image. In a wild story that discusses philosophical concepts like freedom, love and respect, we join Gael, a young woman trying to navigate a world she experiences as random and amoral while doing everything in her power to help her family - but is what she perceives as desira...
  • Jonathan Pool
    Sometimes my reaction to a book is influenced by the other books I was reading around the same time. By coincidence, I read Caoilinn Hughes as one of three consecutive Irish writers, sandwiched between Milkman and Normal People . The Orchid & the Wasp was my favourite of the three, and while by no means my perfect read, it was still an exciting discovery. Gael Foess is the star of the show, and at times her brazen confidence, her derring-do, ...
  • 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...
  • Paul Fulcher
    "Jarleth was involved by then and you know how your father reacts to being told a thing is impossible. Much like you do. And I admire you both for it."The Orchid and The Wasp is a striking debut, and one that has been very well received by other reviewers whose opinion I respect. But it just was not for me: indeed as a reader who generally dislikes wisecracking narrators, particularly ones whose wisecracks are badly mistargeted, this was for me a...
  • 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.
  • Jessica
    2.5 stars. Whilst I did enjoy aspects of this novel, I can't help but feel that overall it was aiming for somewhere beyond me. Hughes' debut struck me as a blend of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and The Future Won't Be Long, but less touching and traumatic than the first, and weirdly far more convoluted than the second despite considerably less drug use. In all honesty I probably wouldn't have finished this one had I not purchased it in hardcover...
  • 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...
  • Doug
    While there's much to admire in this novel, it also bears all the unmistakable and regrettable hallmarks of being a debut. Much of it is overwritten, the main plot not kicking in until literally the halfway mark. There are weird tangential paragraphs, or whole sections, that bear no discernible purpose - one of the semi-major characters (Art) doesn't get a backstory till 20 pages from the end, at which point it's superfluous. Gael is supposedly a...
  • Lou
    Orchid & the Wasp is a special novel and Caoilinn Hughes is a talented new literary voice ready to hit you with her character-driven, sharp as a tack debut novel. This is realist fiction at its finest, with a spiky protagonist in Gael Foess who certainly provided me with a fascinating life in which to study. She's a ruthless, intelligent individual whose beauty betrays her revealing the ugly psychopathic traits which lie just below the surface. A...
  • Emily Fordham
    Ok. This book confused me. Because bits of it I was completely in love with; engaged with; swept up in a story compelling I’d forget how long I’d been reading. Then other bits just... weren’t. These were the bits that were a chore; too much information; too many big words and concepts; too much thinking involved. Orchid and the Wasp is hugely character driven- revolving around Gael, a young Irish girl/woman who knows her strengths and isn...
  • SueLucie
    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...
  • 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...
  • Nicole D.
    This book hit my radar as as a possible Man Booker nominee, and it's a shame it wasn't nominated - especially with books like Snap and Sabrina on the list. Though nothing like "Milkman", it was enough like "Milkman" that if both books were on the list it would have been puzzling. If that makes any sense. I'm in the love-camp on "Milkman" by the way. This is a remarkable novel. Hughes is obviously bright and talented. The writing stellar, the char...
  • 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...
  • Bri Lee
    Hughes is the real deal. When I started this book it was like the author had shoved me from behind into a pool, or a cyclone, and from the first page through to the end it's a sharp and punchy ride around the world with the aptly-named Gael. She's trying to help her brother and mother since her father left them after the '08 financial crisis, but her drive and world philosophy see her going to further and further extremes. Somehow every character...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Sam
    Orchid & the Wasp is an accomplished debut novel. It is very confidently written, although it is not always clear what is going on. This makes a great companion to Darragh Martin's Future Popes of Ireland, which is also set in Ireland and New York during the same time period. Both are against the backdrop of the sub-prime mortgage driven crash, and subsequent austerity.Capitalism is under the cosh here, although no lessons are learnt, or villains...
  • 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...
  • Ava Huang
    "The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp…What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious.”(A Thousand Plateaus, 12)This isn't a book for everyone, but it really means something to me. I don't think I've ever liked a narrator mo...