Cargo of OrchidsBook - 2000
Acclaimed writer Susan Musgrave's first novel in over ten years is a brilliant mix of poignant humanity and black humour in the gripping story of a woman living on Death Row for the unimaginable crime of killing her own child. To pass the time remaining to her, while waiting for the results of her last appeals, the narrator writes the story of the events that resulted in her incarceration. Her work as a translator draws her into an underworld of family-controlled drug cartels operating out of South America, and she falls in love with a son in one such family. Pregnant, she is kidnapped to an island off the coast of Colombia and slowly tricked into a dependence on cocaine. Her narrative - violent and bizarre, but also riveting, erotic and filled with the heady flamboyance of orchids - runs parallel to her account of life in "Death Clinic," as Death Row is called at the Heaven Valley Facility for Women. It is a moving story of friendship amongst three female inmates - portrayed with devastating wit - who share only the fact that they each have a date with the executioner. Cargo of Orchidsswings through comedy and tragedy to shed a gradual, eerie light on the questions of guilt and innocence and moral ambiguity that lie at its heart. Excerpt fromCargo of Orchids: "Despite the freight of anger she carries, Rainy seems so frail it is hard to imagine her giving birth to anything heavier than tears. Rainy gave birth to twins and six months later left them on the railway tracks. She claims it prejudiced the jury. If she'd smothered them or driven them off a pier, it would have been more socially acceptable.-- But abandoning your kids on the tracks wasn't in fashion. She wishes now she'd gone out drinking for the evening instead, but she didn't have enough money to hire a babysitter and pay for the beer."
Publisher: Toronto : Knopf, 2000.
Characteristics: 375 p. ;,22 cm.