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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 surviveSoon 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

10 thoughts on “A Memory of Violets

  1. says:

    This is a heartwarming and a heart wrenching novel Set in the early 1900's it highlights the misfortune of the children many homeless that populated London Many were crippled ill used by those in their small hovels and others had no one They sold flowers to survive to eat or to stop them from getting a beating at home for not bringing back enough money Albert Shaw based on the very real John Grooms saw their misfortune and started homes for these poor young woman When they are old enough they are taught to make fabric flowers Tilly a young woman escaping from a home life that carries with it a great misfortune arrives to become a house mother at one of the homes The story is related alternately by Florrie a young Irish girl whose mother dies and is left in the care of her drunken father and in charge of her four yr old sister One day while selling flowers Rose goes missing and Florrie will spend the rest of her life looking for herWe learn about the terrible conditions on the street secrets and a strange coincidence in Tilly's past and read the journals written by Florrie we meet several of these young girls and are treated to some of the most wonderful caring people A very good book that I perhaps gave a sentimental rating but this is all based on fact although the story is the authors own The author does a wonderful job keeping the Reader's interest by the changing perspective of the plot Well worth a read if these type of stories are to you liking I for one am glad I read it was a good book for over the holidays showing some reform minded Victorians that had some very giving spirits These homes operated for over 100 yearsARC from publisher

  2. says:

    Tilly Flora and Rosiethree characters connected by time London and flowersFlora crippled and in care of her little sister since their mother died lost her younger blind sister Rosie on the street as they were selling flowers Flora made it her life's uest to find Rosie Tilly a housemother at an orphanage where Flora stayed years before makes a connection to both Flora and Rosie through a diary Tilly finds in the closet in her room​ at the orphanage Tilly feels she was destined to find the diary a​nd to ​find Rosie Tilly felt Flora's presence in her room through the smell of violets and cold breezes Could Flora really be in the room Tilly now occupied? Could she and Flora together find Rosie​ and could Tilly find what she was looking for in life and ease the sadness about her own life?​Going back and forth in time and telling Flora and Rosie's story was intriguing and beautifully told A MEMORY OF VIOLETS is a book set in the time period and place that I thoroughly enjoythe 1800's in London It also has a character based on a real personYou will ​mingle with proper Victorian ladies as well as poverty stricken children and families Descriptions of both ends of the economic scale make this book absolutely wonderful The beautiful writing and descriptions keep you glued to the pages and ​give you ​the feeling that you are sharing every situation with the characters Tilly's story is as good as Flora's and Rosie's story and reveals a secret she finds out about herselfThe characters are warm and inviting A MEMORY OF VIOLETS is going to be a favorite for ​2015 and the characters will remain in my memory long after I turn the last page A MEMORY OF VIOLETS has a marvelous writing style and storyline The book's beginning and ending make a full circle of life filled with love understanding and compassion I loved A MEMORY OF VIOLETS The ending is chilling and oh so tender and beautiful You need to make room in your toppling TBR stacks for A MEMORY OF VIOLETS 55​ This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review

  3. says:

    This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life 4 StarsEvery 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 RosieMy 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 meThis 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 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

  4. says:

    This is a lovely book about the plight of the poor in the late 1880's to the 1910's but it about so much The book centers around two young flowers sellers in London in the 1880's The two girls 8 and 4 are firmly bonded after their mother's death and the avoidance of their father who beats them when they don't make enough money Their life is horrendous and the descriptions literally brought me to tears They become separated one fateful day and the older one Florrie spends her life searching for her younger sister Rose Florrie meets an incredible man Alfred Shaw He has set up a factory with homes for the disabled and poor flower girls There they learn to make beautiful artificial flowers The flowers are such a success that ueen Alexandra orders a million roses to be sold throughout London to raise funds for the poor Shaw operates on the theory that the disabled can function and contribute despite their handicaps It makes such a difference in the girl's lives Even the girls with no arms are taught to paint the flowers with paintbrushes in their teeth There are several backstories that are tied up nicely and keep the story moving along The part I liked best is how this man set up a functioning business and homes for the poorest and how they flourished It could be a blueprint for what we could accomplish today if we tried I enjoyed this book tremendously and think it would be a wonderful selection for a book group

  5. says:

    uite a meaningful story of sisters embracing love extraordinary kindness and altruismAlternating between the present and the past – London 1912 and London 1876 we read of two young women and their individual stories of their relationship with their sisters ensnarled in misfortune Parallel contrasting the stories reveal the bonds and unfastening of sistersGaynor’s extensive research cannot go unnoticed as she delves into the disparity of the wealthy and impoverished coexisting in Victorian London Introducing the reader to London’s flower girls – crippled and orphaned children selling violets and watercress as a means of survival as they make their home on the filthy harsh streets These castaway girls steal your heart becoming a fascinating fixture in the compelling narrative As Gaynor reveals of these young ladies and of the historical facts you find yourself heartbroken and jubilantA majority of the story serves Florrie and Rosie – we understand the insurmountable loss Florrie underwent however the reader cannot escape Florrie’s lamentations of losing her sister redundancy bordering annoying given the fact we learn fairly early on Rosie’s outcomeAll the characters warmed my heart I found myself drawn to Tilly the most Her curious nature her yearn to solve the mystery as Florrie’s diary speaks to her the fragrance of violets pushing her to learn of what became of little Rosie Learning of Tilly’s background as well as her cloudy relationship with her sister was needless to say affectingA wonderful story revealing the harshness and softness of society fascinating historical facts skillfully woven into a compelling narrative along with endearing characters

  6. says:

    2 12 starsI read to be transported to a different place and time This book was so riddled with implausible coincidences that I was never able to become immersed in the story I kept shaking my head thinking “Yeah right” After about the 8th “remarkable” coincidence it became ridiculous The author has an engaging writing style but she needs to pay attention to period details I found it very hard to believe in the Edwardian England as portrayed The characters did not speak nor act as I thought they should Here are just a couple of examples of things I uestioned • I guess there was very little class distinction in England at the time and almost everyone spoke and wrote the ueen’s English – even former Covent Garden flower girls? I doubt it • The wives of wealthy industrialists and daughters of blacksmiths both traveled in 2nd class introduced themselves to each other and conversed the entire way? Hard to believe Nothing about this book felt believable which was unfortunate because much of the setting was based on historical fact

  7. says:

    Set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras This story gives a glimpse into a world of two drastic social classes one very rich and the other very poor; the aristocrats and the poor Irish immigrants living in the slums of London’s poorest neighborhood It offers a glimpse into the lives of crippled and orphaned girls who sell flowers to survive and are afraid to be taken to workhouse which is like a death sentence And a uest of one man with a charitable heart to make a difference He creates a home for those poor girls and gives them purpose confidence and hope England 1912 Tilly Harper arrives in London for a position of assistant housemother at Mr Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls Home for orphaned and crippled girls Instead of selling flowers on the grimy streets of London and be dependent on seasons they make artificial flowers year round Flowers made out of silk looking so lifelike that you want to smell the perfume of the petals Tilly is assigned to Violet Home – one of the Flower Homes as they are called after flowers There she finds a notebook written by an orphan named Florrie London 1876 Florrie promises her mom she’ll look after her little sister before her mom passes away But while selling flowers an accident happens and her sister’s hand slips from hers and Rosie is gone She writes her memories down in hope when she finds her sister; she’ll be able to show her that she never forgot her and never stopped looking for herMeanwhile the story of Rose’s gets revealedAs Tilly continues her read of Florrie’s notebook her own search for Rosie begins And when she struggles her late father’s encouraging words come to her mind – This part which brings her father’s words is very endearing including the dear relationship she had had with her father Her father’s words are very resonatingThe layers of the story are beautifully revealedThe atmosphere of family and the pride they take in making those flowers shine through the story You can feel the pride and excitement and the unity of that place It’s very heartening The girls can’t mend their bodies but the place mends their hearts bringing their spirits upThis is a very delightful and endearing read; originally written and interestingly plotted with uplifting characters This book is a treasureIf I had to describe this book in one word it would be heartwarming PS This story was inspired by real London’s flower sellers Alexandra Day Rose and John Groom’s organizationFBBestHistoricalFiction

  8. says:

    So when this book arrived for review my mum couldn't resist and she wanted to review it for me Here is her reviewSuch a lovely well written novel; as a Londoner and former florist who was a regular 4am visitor to old Covent Garden I could almost smell the flowers in this book I remember the hustle and bustle of the early morning traders cupping and blowing into my frozen fingers and feeling the warmth of tea or hot chocolate to keep out the cold banging my frozen feet on the ground waiting while my father bartered with the sellers and then loading boxes of flowers onto our van ready to take back to our shop to sell All these long forgotten memories came flooding back to me as I read about Flora and Rosie the little orphaned flower sellers Good storytellers evoke memories and Hazel Gaynor definitely did this for me with A Memory of Violets Covent Garden has changed uite a bit now but when I was a child it must have been unchanged from the late 1800's and I could easily picture Flora and Rosie picking up fallen flowers and watercress to make into posies to sell to the gentry Because I felt such a connection this was uite a special read for me I loved how the whole story was bought together by Tilly Harpers' story and how she fitted into the novel to help find the missing little flower sellers' sister I don't want to retell the story or give away any spoilers to this beautiful heartwarming and often heart wrenching story so you'll have to trust me and read it yourself but I can say that you won't be disappointed It is even poignant when you remember that life really was like this for so many children at the turn of the century never knowing if they would eat having no where warm and safe to live being terrified of the Work House and having to work as soon as they were able I'm sure Flora's story was not uncommon and many young girls suffered the deprivation and hardship of poverty many died young lost their families and spent their lives searching for their siblings on the often cruel streets of London This novel is so much than a work of fiction and that is what for me makes this such a good piece of writingTilly Flora and Rosie will stay with me for a long time I am so glad I read this book and so glad that I was not born in the late 1800's I have to give this book 5 starsI would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review

  9. says:

    The one real strength in this book is the description of the London streets the evocative imagery of flower sellers and the trials they went throughThis book suffers from several enormous problems however While I won't give away the plot the concept of plot twist is abandoned in favor of some of the most improbable coincidences I've ever read I just remember shaking my head in disgust You can use coincidence once even twice and get away with it but five or six times and it's just ridiculousThe book is set between alternating points of view the older from the 1876 POV of a flower seller Florrie who at the tender age of eight becomes responsible for the full support of her blind four year old sister Rosie This is the emotional heart of the book Rosie rings trueUnfortunately Rosie has to share the book with Tilly who becomes the 1912 POV of a young housemother journeying to London Tilly just can't stop tripping over coincidence and it's hard to like her in spite of it We hear a lot about her relationships with the girls under her care but just briefly and never anything like an anecdote just that Tilly is growing to understand things about these women We don't get the treat of actually seeing her interact with them they're like wallpaper Tilly has a sister as well and apparently their relationship isn't great Not that the reader gets to witness it after a lot of dramatic buildup we meet her sister and in that one conversation there's absolutely no drama just a uick capitulation We never get to see them interact afterwards just a weak metaphor about taking down a wallThere's also a weak romance for Tilly but there's so little interaction between the characters that it's not exactly a dramatic point in the bookVerdict Despite some good writing Ms Gaynor needs to flesh out her characters a little before sending her next novel to her editor

  10. says:

    This story is set at the turn of the century and alternates between Tilly who goes to live as a house mother at an orphanage for crippled girls who make flowers and Florrie and her little sister Rosie They are little girls surviving in poverty on the streets of London One day they are separated and Florrie spends her life missing and searching for Rosie I loved this historical fiction and highly recommend if you liked Secrets Of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner