Friday, November 21, 2014

A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor. HarperCollins 2015

In 1912, Tilly Harper leaves home to become a house mother in a home for former flower and watercress selling girls; the lucky occupants now work in a factory making artificial flowers, which were immensely popular at the time. Both belong to philanthropist Alfred Shaw, who rescues as many of the girls- the poorest of the poor, many of them with physical problems that prevent them from getting better employment- from the streets. When Tilly is putting her things away, she discovers a box with an old journal stored in it, and she reads it over the days as she has time. It’s the story of Florrie Flynn and the younger sister, Rosie, who she lost when Rosie was four years old. Florrie spent her entire short life living and working in the group home, and never gave up looking for her sister. This poignant tale inspires Tilly to try and find Rosie herself, and let her know how much her sister loved her.

It’s a sweet story, and paints a good picture of the lives of the flower girls and poverty in the late Victorian and Edwardian era in London. The flower factory and group homes are based on real ones established by John Groom. Tilly is a nice character with enough of a personal conflict to make her interesting. There is a love interest, but it really doesn’t add much to the story. There are also some amazing coincidences, but they are worked in well enough to be believable. Good story for a rainy or snowy afternoon.

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Neither of these things affected my review.  

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