A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
by Hazel Gaynor
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.
Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, 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.
Review: The haunting and desperate chapters and letters written by Florrie grabbed me into this book and kept me listening. My heart broke for these two little girls, Flora and Rosie, who had to survive on the street all on their own by selling flowers. At first I wanted to know more about them and less about Tilly but then Tilly's interactions with the orphans and the flower girls captivated me as well. Tilly eventually found a journal written by Florrie and then both of their stories were intertwined. Since I was listening to the book on my way to and from work, there were times where I felt things were repeating but I couldn't go back and check. I discovered later that Tilly's dreams often repeated themselves. The narrator in the audio version had a wonderful voice and presence but I did not like her voice for Mrs. Ingram. She didn't sound French to me. Other than those 2 small details, I very much enjoyed the story and would read another book by this author.
Rating: 4 stars