From the author of the USA Today bestseller The Girl Who Came Home comes an unforgettable historical novel that tells the story of two little sisters - orphaned flower sellers - and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.
‘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 the presence of each other. 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 Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s orphaned and crippled flower girls, taking them off the streets. For Tilly, the appointment is a fresh start; a chance to leave her troubled past behind.
Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers 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 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.
William Morrow Trade Paperback; February 3, 2015; $14.99; ISBN: 9780062316899
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.
I have to say that I have never read an historical novel quite like this one. There is no typical Hero or Heroine, no love story but a raw, painful, beautiful look into the poor children of London over two different periods in history. A look inside how poverty affected the children of the very poor and what these children had to do to survive. You see the story from two seperate characters. I enjoyed this very much, especially loved the story of Florrie and her little sister Rosie and how Florrie always took care of Rosie and made sure she had what ever comforts she could salvage. Florrie is crippled and Rosie is blind, then one day Rosie disappears and Florrie spends the rest of her days trying to find her little sister.
The other story is about a young lady who goes to London to teach at a school where young poor homeless girls make silk flowers. Tilly is trying to prove that she is not useless like her mother tells her and wants to make something of her life.
This book was a revelation to me in the sense that you really see what happened to these young girls who sold flowers to survive and how they did. Florrie broke my heart in her attempts to find her sister and how she wrote about Rosie. I admired the way Tilly took charge and made something out of her life. This is a peek into a world where no child should have to live and eventhough it was sad there were many moments of you joy and discovery to make it worth reading.