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Hope Dares to Blossom, by Elisabeth Conway

Orchids hold many secrets; like their habitats, they are exotic. In nineteenth-century China, their mystery attracted people – both good and bad – to seek them out.

This story is about the coming-of-age of two young men, both of whom have been influenced by Stamford Raffles, founder of modern Singapore. From the Oxford Physic Garden, Edmund Beaumont embarks upon a plant-collecting expedition to China. Upon reaching Singapore, he meets two people who will become a significant part of his life. The first is Dick, a talented Papuan artist. Travelling together from Macao to Guangzhou, Dick and Edmund explore rivers and streams, mountains and villages, but there is always someone watching. When Edmund acquires a rare orchid, he and Dick hatch a plan to fool the man in the shadows, but he is someone who thrives on deceit and nothing is straightforward. Dick takes the orchid to Singapore; Edmund continues to Sumatra. His memory of the other person he met in Singapore – a beautiful young Chinese woman — continues to distract him. A chance encounter with two strangers enables him to present her with a very special gift on his return.

In Elisabeth Conway’s Hope Dares to Blossom, we experience a world where well-intentioned men ventured into the unknown and the lengths to which their unscrupulous adversaries went to support illegal trade. It is a world where friendships flourish and courage triumphs.

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