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  • Location: London, Clacton on Sea, Grasmere

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

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

Why a Booktrail?

1867 and 1912 – The fascinating story of the Covent Garden flower girls

  • ISBN: 978-0062316899
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Tilly Harper leaves her native Lake District in 1912 to go and work 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.

When Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan and flower girl named Florrie, she is determined to find out how and why she died and where her beloved sister Rosie is now. But this search is not going to be easy.

Travel Guide

The World of the Covent Garden Flower girls is not the fragrant world the name suggests – this is a world of poverty and dank dark streets where the rats are more numerous than the people and where the girls selling the flowers are actually selling their last vestiges of hope.

These poor girls – what they are forced to endure is cruel and inhumane – how I wanted to hug them and take them away from their plight. The two sisters, Florrie and Rosie are inseparable and are each other’s protector as they stand out on the streets trying to sell their pitiful bunches of flowers. Many of these girls were either physically ill or disabled as well as emotionally isolated from society. Survival was their only way out, if possible at all.

Covent Garden may be somewhat changed nowadays but you can smell the flowers on every page of this novel and the cobbles beneath your feet. The early morning chill in the air and the hustle and bustle of life in this one square in London.

The book reads like a flower, opening up each and every petal one after the other to reveal the full fragrant story. The story is divided up into sections named after flowers and their meanings become clear. The story of these flower girls, flower homes and Tilly’s experience of them is an amazing story of perseverance and struggle. This is an evocative and rich layered wold which unfurls to reveal some very sad and poignant moments.

Streetview Maps

A) Covent Garden
Smell the flowers and imagine the world of yesteryear
b) Sekforde Street
The flower girls used to live here

Booktrailer Review

Susan @thebooktrailer

This book is quite frankly one of the most atmospheric and evocative I have ever read. I spent a lovely lazy sunday reading this with the fragrance of a peony candle to help evoke the mood, but you don’t need it as the books more than speaks for itself. Where do I start giving an opinion of this book – magical, poignant, so very sad and so very lovely all at the same time. Hazel stays true to her Irish heritage too takes a story I had not heard of before and makes it feel as real as anything I have ever experienced myself.

This book was really clever – the two stories from Florrie and Tilly’s point of view, the sisters love for each other, Tilly’s past and the interweaving of all the stems of the story. Just art really, with Hazel Gaynor as the flower arranger extraordinaire.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:

Twitter: @HazelGaynor

Facebook: /hazelgaynorbooks

Web: hazelgaynor.com

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