Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor (audio/print)

Title: A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
Author: Hazel Gaynor    
Narrator: Nicola Barber  
Published: February 2015, Harper Audio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 10 hours 29 minutes /Paperback 400 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Print via publisher 

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.

My thoughts: As soon as I read the description of the this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I knew it was going to be one of those books that would just take my breath away and it absolutely did. I ended up reading and listening to this and I couldn't have been happier with that decision - listening to this story only enhanced my enjoyment of it. 

Told in a dual narrative, this story delves into the history of the flower girls - those girls who were orphaned and crippled, and sold flowers to survive. Unbeknownst to Tilly, when she takes on the job as housemother at one such home for flower girls, her world is about to turn upside down. 

I have really come to enjoy the dual narrative as a plot technique. I loved the back and forth movement in time as we get to know both Flora and Rosie and what happened to them in the past, and Tilly's story in the present and how she came to be the housemother in the present-day story. When the stories collide, as they usually do in some fashion in this types of plot techniques, I actually got chills. This was one of the better ones I had read!

The writing of this book is absolutely beautiful - so descriptive and captivating. It really brings to life what life in London during the late 1800s and early 1900s was like for these girls. And while part of this book is a bit sad, it's also quite heartwarming and will leave you thinking about these characters long after you finish reading that last page. This was the first book I've read by Hazel Gaynor, but it certainly won't be the last!

Audio Thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Nicola Barber narrate a book and I just loved listening to her voice. She has a great British accent and I thought she did all the characters justice in this book - the young and the old alike! Each and every character got their own unique voice, even the few men that appeared and I never had a problem discerning who was speaking. I really enjoyed listening to her and will definitely be checking out what else she has narrated.



  1. Wonderful review, Kristin. This sounds like a beautiful story.

  2. Sounds good. Like the old fashioned cover

  3. Like you as soon as I read the premise it jumped on my TBR! I'm glad to know the audio really worked for this one. Plus I love the cover!


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