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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Beach Club Book Club Reads A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
Published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-231689-9
Trade paperback, $14.99, 386 pages

The Beach Club Book Club enjoyed Hazel Gaynor's historical fiction The Girl Who Came Home, and so when the opportunity to read her novel A Memory of Violets came up with the Book Club Girl Book Club, we took it.

Irish sisters Florrie and Rose live in poverty in 1876 London, selling small posies of violets and watercress at Covent Garden's flower markets. Their mother is dead and their father is an awful man. Florrie always cared for her little sister, but one day they are separated and Florrie is panicked looking everywhere for Rose but not finding her.

Rose ended up hiding in the carriage of a wealthy woman, who took pity on the poor child and eventually convinced her husband to raise the child as their own. Florrie found refuge working and living with other young girls who made flowers to sell.

The conditions were nice, and the program was run by a kind, wealthy man who believed that helping these girls find a better life was his calling. But Florrie never stopped looking for Rose, hoping that one day they would be reunited.

The story moves forward to 1912, where a young woman named Tillie ends up working as a housemother's assistant in one of Mr. Shaw's Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls. She finds a journal written by a former resident, Florrie, and tries to find out what happened to Florrie and Rose.

The Beach Club Book Club loved A Memory of Violets. One of our members praised the sister theme (she has three older sisters), and compared the flower storyline to another book we had read, The Language of Flowers.

She also enjoyed the theme of how fate plays such an important part in our lives. Two quotes that resonated with her were:
"There is a reason for everything and everything has a reason. Keep a close eye on life and you'll know what the reason is."
And one quote that her children used in their yearbook was also in the book:
"Give the world your best and the best will come back to you."
Since some of us in the club are Irish, we enjoyed that aspect of the story. Irish families tend to be big and like to stay together, something we could relate to. Among the final thoughts about A Memory of Violets were that it was an enjoyable and heartwarming read, and we liked it even more than The Girl Who Came Home. We can't wait to read Hazel Gaynor's next one.

rating 5 of 5

Our review of The Girl Who Came Home is here.


  1. My book club really liked The Girl Who Came Home - it sounds like we need to look for this book.

  2. I've been meaning to read this one. It sounds like a winner.