Saturday, 31 January 2015

Review: A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor

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.

Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015.

Yet again words escape me and I do not know how to express my thoughts on this story.  I loved it, that much I know but how do I share my reasons why?

This was a heart wrenching and beautifully written story.  Set back in the later 1800's and early 1900's it tells the story of two girls a few decades apart.  From the tragic story of Florrie and the flower sellers of London's streets to the story of Tilly working with the afflicted flower girls who had been rescued from the streets of London.

I knew nothing of the story of the flower sellers in London and their tragic stories.  I do not know if they are still there as I have never been to London however I have seen them in other places I have travelled in Asia which made it all the more real to me.  To think that young children were living under such circumstance (and could still be) is absolutely heartbreaking.  I was glued to the pages of Florrie's story.

While the story of Tilly offered up no real surprises I was equally invested.  I wanted to find out what happened to her father and her sister.  I wanted to know if she would be able to find Florrie's sister.  Would she make it in London?

Although Gaynor does not really keep what happened to the characters a secret and you know throughout, I couldn't wait to see how it would unfold for the characters.  I had an emotional attachment to them and the outcome.  This is always the sign of a good book for me.

This is the second time I have read one of Gaynor's works.  Both times I enjoyed her writing immensely.  She is quickly rising on my list of must read authors and I am eagerly awaiting her next work.  For those who like historical fiction this would be a must read.

Random thought:  All stories I have read about London during this era depict a filthy and smelly city.  This does not match up with my current image of the city however must be accurate as too many have described it that way.  It is interesting how a city can transform it to the one we know today.  Perhaps there are still areas like this however it is not what we see I the media.  It is just interesting and not necessarily related to this book.

About The Author

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer living in Ireland.

Her debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME (William Morrow/HarperCollins) was a USA Today and New York Times bestseller. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS will be published in February 2015.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was recently named as one of U.S. Library Journal's Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015.

Hazel also writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website She also writes feature articles for the site and has interviewed authors such as Philippa Gregory, John Boyne, and Sebastian Faulks.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel has lived in Ireland for the past twelve years with her husband and two young children.

Twitter:  HazelGaynor

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