Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're diving between the pages of a book I read the end of last month but couldn't find the time nor the words to review. Now, before you go jumping to any conclusions, it was not that bad...but rather THAT GOOD! Ladies and gents, get ready to meet a book that stole the words from my fingertips, today's book of choice is....
A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
William Morrow Paperbacks
About the book...
"For little sister. . . . I will never stop looking for you."
1876. Among the filth and depravity of Covent Garden's flower markets, orphaned Irish sisters Flora and Rosie Flynn sell posies of violets and watercress to survive. It is a pitiful existence, made bearable only by each other's presence. When they become separated, the decision of a desperate woman sets their lives on very different paths.
1912. Twenty-one-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London to become assistant housemother at one of Mr. Shaw's Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the homes have cared for London's orphaned and crippled flower girls, getting them off the streets. For Tilly, the appointment is a fresh start, a chance to leave her troubled past behind.
Soon after she arrives at the home, Tilly finds a notebook belonging to Flora Flynn. Hidden between the pages she finds dried flowers and a heartbreaking tale of loss and separation as Flora's entries reveal how she never stopped looking for her lost sister. Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie—but the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.
Magnificent. Exquisite. All words I could use to describe this work and I still wouldn't even come close to my true feelings for it.
The author takes you out of your perfect reading nook and places you right on the streets of London among the flower selling girls. Smell the air, so fragrant...in more ways than one. Look around, taking in the sharp contrast of beauty to be seen in the landscape both nature and man-made. Hear the calls of the girls as they ask you to spare a tuppence for the bunches and bundles they carry...all of which shall go to satisfying their guardians in hopes of keeping a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs for one more day.
It's both heart breaking and heart achingly good from start to finish with so much growth in between you won't believe your eyes. For as different as the two sets of sisters were, you couldn't help but feel close to them both. Though the time and circumstances differ between their lives, the similarities are apparent enough to see how alike the stories of their hearts truly are. You mourn the losses, share in their joys, welcome the warmth of a sunny afternoon, and shy from the chill of an unknown breeze. There isn't a point in time that you fall out of step with either the present or the past despite the fact that they are being revealed side by side. As the pieces come together and the picture grows clearer, things you only believed might be true take final form to surpass your expectations once again.
Overall, I would say this is a must read novel in my opinion. Whether you're a fan of Historical Fiction or not, the story at its core will capture you heart and soul with its beauty, its heartbreak, and its unending mission to prove that love can survive anything and distance is merely an allusion. Admittedly, I have a copy of Ms. Gaynor's first novel in my personal Mount TBR. Looks like I just might have to go spelunking to unearth it sooner rather than later.
About the author...
Hazel Gaynor's 2014 debut novel The Girl Who Came Home—A Novel of the Titanic was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. A Memory of Violets is her second novel.
Hazel writes a popular guest blog 'Carry on Writing' for national Irish writing website writing.ie and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, among others.
Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. She appeared as a guest speaker at the Romantic Novelists' Association and Historical Novel Society annual conferences in 2014.
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.
Special thanks to Onalee at William Morrow Paperbacks for the review copy. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, their full catalog, the publisher, or the author, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title celebrated its book birthday February of this year via William Morrow Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!