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  • Location: Burgundy, Brancion, Marseille

Fresh Water for Flowers

Fresh Water for Flowers

Why a Booktrail?

2021: The story of a graveyard and all the people you meet there

  • Translator: Hildegarde Serle
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of the hilarious and touching confidences of random visitors and her colleagues—three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest.

Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of police chief Julien Seul, wishing to deposit his mother’s ashes on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Julien is not the only one to guard a painful secret: his mother’s story of clandestine love breaks through Violette’s carefully constructed defences to reveal the tragic loss of her daughter, and her steely determination to find out who is responsible.

The funny, moving, intimately told story of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness, Fresh Water for Flowers brings out the exceptional and the poetic in the ordinary. A delightful, atmospheric, absorbing tale.

Travel Guide

BookTrail it to Brancion, Burgundy

Visit Valerie’s Brancion in Authors on Location

This is a very real village in France although Brancion en Chalon as it’s called in the book is fictional. It’s located between Cluny and Tournus in the southern part of the Saone-et-Loire department of Burgundy. Its full name is Martailly-les-Brancion

From the 13th to the 15th centuries Brancion was an important regional centre for the Dukes of Burgundy – you can tell by the age of the buildings in the village, that this is an old and medieval place steeped in history.

In 1997, Violette and Philippe Toussaint arrive at Brancion-en-Chalon Cemetery to look after it and become its caretakers. In the real Brancion- only residents are allowed to drive in the village but there is a car-park just outside the village. There is a graand entrance to this most amazing of places – via the castle which is a short climb uphill . The Eglise de Saint-Pierre sits at the top of the village overlooking everyone and everything around it. Imagine Violette working here!

Booktrailer Review

This novel made me cry, smile, laugh through the tears and go through the whole range of emotions at the same time. At first sight, you might think a novel about a cemetery keeper will be grim and depressing. Not so. Of course, it’s not a laugh a minute either, but this story is special and really comforted me in many ways.

I don’t tend to find comfort from visiting cemeteries, so I was surprised how much this novel touched me. Violette, the main character is the reason why I guess as well as the writing and excellent translation. Violette suffers in life yet meets challenges head on. She is living and working alone in the cemetery when a man comes to lay his mother’s ashes on a grave. He shows Violette the mother’s diary and it’s this that weaves its way through the novel connecting them all.

The setting of a graveyard in a Burgundy village is evoked well and you find yourself in that cemetery and its small lanes as you wander through the lives of those who have gone before. All those stories, lives lived and memories which linger…

I’d say read this without thinking that it’s about a graveyard as it’s more about life, hope and survival. It will mean something different to every person. It’s a special read.

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Fresh Water for Flowers

Destination/location: Burgundy, Marseille Author/guide: Valérie Perrin   Departure Time: 1997

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