A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers

A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers

by Hazel Gaynor


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The author of the USA Today and New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home has once again created an unforgettable historical novel. Step into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062316899
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/03/2015
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 65,855
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from the Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of 'Ten Big Breakout Authors' for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

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A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
4 Stars! Every once in a while, I am lucky enough to pick up a book that I just can't seem to get out of my mind. This was one of those books. I found myself thinking about this book constantly during the course of my day. I told my daughter about it and anyone else who would listen. I couldn't turn the story off in my head. I just had to know what happened to Florrie and Rosie. My favorite parts of the book were were set in the late 1800's in London and told from Florrie's perspective. For some reason, I really connected with her character. As her story unfolded during the first half of the book, I was completely mesmerized. I could imagine her as a young child taking responsibility for her younger sister, Rosie. The love that Florrie felt for her sister was incredibly powerful for me. This story was also told from Tilly's point of view during the early 1900's. Tilly goes to work as an assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw's Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. She soon finds Florrie's journal in her room and becomes interested in what happened and makes a vow to find Rosie. Tilly has things that she needs to deal with in her own life and working at the home along with looking for Rosie seems to help her with that. I absolutely loved the first half of this book. I loved Florrie and Rosie's story and it really made me think about what it must have been like for a young orphan with a disability living in that time period. I think that the writing did a fabulous job of showing the reader how these children suffered. There were several twists during the first half that caught me completely off guard that I really enjoyed. The style of writing was wonderful with a very distinctive voice for each of the points of view. The characters in this story were so vivid and likeable and I felt like I was right there with them. I liked the second half of the book but it didn't hold the magic that I felt with the first half. I think that one main reason for that was that Florrie was not as much of a focus. The second half of the novel felt much more predictable for me and I was able to guess how things would end. There was a bit of magical realism thrown in towards the end of the book that I really didn't think added much to the story. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. This story about the love of a sister is moving. This isn't the kind of book that I normally pick up but I am so very glad that I did. This story is one that will stay with me for a long time. This is the first book by Hazel Gaynor that I have had a chance to read but I plan to continue reading her work in the future. I received an advance reader edition of this book from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and the story of florra and rosie i wish that people did not give spoilers in their reviews i loved the characters and was glad of a happy ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the tale! Thought the author did a fine job. Afterall to me, fiction reading is entertaimment and this fit the bill. Why folks feel the need for nit picking about time periods, verbage used, editing, etc is beyond me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting. Based on history. Hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WHY do people have to ruin it for everyone else by giving the ending away in their review? I will not bother to purchase now! The author and the reader thank you.
BookLoverNV More than 1 year ago
A very beautiful story. I loved being transported into the past. My only complaint was that it was predictable. Still a heart touching story. 
gaele More than 1 year ago
There was no way for me to resist this book from the synopsis alone: Hazel Gaynor is mixing up two eras in this historical fiction, all  centering on characters that are not usually featured in historic fiction: the underclass.   Strikingly, with all of the economic changes and improvements in the late Victorian Era, society’s treatment and opportunities for the underprivileged and infirm, particularly women and children was not advancing at the same rate. With Flora and Rosie (aged 8 and 4) scrabling to sell watercress and violet posies near Covent Garden in 1876 to Tillie’s arrival at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Violet Girls in 1921 options and the atmosphere haven’t greatly improved.  Flora and Rosie are Irish immigrant’s children, aged 8 and 4, struggling to survive against the odds. But Rosie disappears one day, setting a lifelong quest for Flora.  Her arrival at Mr. Shaw’s home, and her life there as she sought to find her sister is one thread of the story.  Matlda or Tillie is just 21, leaving a sheltered and reasonably quiet, if loveless life in the Lake District. The offer of the position of house  mother at Mr. Shaw’s home is daunting, but a challenge she finds preferable to the continued recriminations from her mother.  Gaynor skillfully weaves the two stories together after Tillie finds Flora’s journal with the tale of Rosie’s disappearance.  Taking the quest on as her own as she explores and investigates, Along the way Tillie comes to grow and learn more of her own potential and capabilities even as the relationship with her employer grows.  Gaynor’s lovely crafting of descriptions, providing perspective and scenes that are not common in most fiction reads keep the reader’s  interest, while providing a depth and emotional accessibility that is surprisingly unsentimental. While never stinting on the darker moments: child labor, poverty, prejudice and the struggles for equality and safety juxtapose with patrons of the home and owners of the  most luxurious homes in the city.  A lovely read that starts slowly to build the scene and moments and soon draws the reader in to the world, loathe to leave.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating look into the lives of turn-of-the century London flower sellers. Like the historical links at teh end.
Anonymous 3 months ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unique storyline really enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. I always like when fictional characters are based on real people. Enjoyed the meaning of flowers in the past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Based on real life characters and events. Quite coincidental and predictable but a lovely story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many things left undone. What happened to Herbert? Where was Margurite’s husband when Violet confronted her? How did Flora die?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was like a puzzle. I wanted to know how all of the pieces fit together so much, that I couldn't put it down. Part mystery, part history and a wee bit of romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful, poignant story of two sisters, Florrie and Rosie, born into poverty and lost to each other. The benevolence of two kind strangers gives them both homes and a future but keeps them apart. Tilly and her sister, Esther, sadly have no such bond. Tilly wants to love her sister and seeks forgiveness from her too. She learns about the mother that didn't love her while seeking to find Rosie for Florrie and while forging a life for herself. I loved this story. It was heartwarming and very well done.
COOKIE-CRC More than 1 year ago
Although I have not yet completed this book I am thoroughly enjoying it. The characters and their story are truly interesting and intriguing....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!! Beautiful multi-layered story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is well written with a fascinating story line, believable and loving characters, and a valuable history lesson. You will not be disappointed!
shereads73 More than 1 year ago
A very good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read more from this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written.
Paulam13 More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed my 2nd historical fiction novel by this author. The focus of life by two young sisters trying to survive on the streets of London, and the love they shared was truly intriguing. Had to see how their lives continued.
icecreamlady More than 1 year ago
Just loved everything about this story and its characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written story. I couldn't put it down!