Weekend Reads: A Memory of Violets

A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower SellersA Memory of Violets: A Novel of London’s Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is easily one of the finest pieces of historical fiction I’ve ever read. Author Hazel Gaynor, inspired by having played Eliza Doolittle in her high school production of “My Fair Lady,” decided to learn more about the lives of the Covent Garden flower sellers. “A Memory of Violets” is the result of her research.

Told in two time periods, early 20th C. and late 19th C., we see not only two flower sellers but also one of the “housemothers” in a home for disabled children where the inmates are taught to make artificial flowers. She finds the diary written by one of the two flower sellers and is determined to find out as much as she can about them.

The book is well-written and rich in period detail. In short, it has everything I like to see in a historical novel. Gaynor has clearly done her homework, and brings us straight into the world not only of the London aristocracy but also of the poor people who lived in the Seven Dials.

Well done!

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