Book Review: A Memory of Violets

26 Jun

UnknownStep into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

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 survive.

Soon 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.


hazel-gaynor-bw-250x250Hazel Gaynor‘s 2014 debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was selected by WHSmith Travel as a ‘Fresh Talent’ title.

Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website and also contributes feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Rachel Joyce among others.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of ten big breakout authors for 2015. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

To keep up-to-date with Hazel’s latest news, visit her website or her Facebook page at


My Impressions:

A Memory of Violets was my book club, Page Turners, June selection. This historical novel was inspired by the flower sellers of Victorian England — think Eliza Doolittle of My Fair Lady. Gaynor’s meticulous research, her passion for her subject matter, and an outstanding writing talent created a great book for our group’s discussion. Have you read this book? What did you think.

In London of 1876, Florrie is just a child when she takes on the care of her baby sister Rosie. Charged with keeping Rosie safe from the streets of London and the menace at home, Florrie takes her job seriously. When Rosie becomes lost, Florrie vows never to stop searching for her. Thrity-six years later, Tilly Harper discovers the journal of now deceased Florrie who until her dying day looked for Rosie. Determined to find out just what happened to Rosie, Tilly must come to terms with the strained relationship with her own sister. A Memory of Violets is a novel of loyalty and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness.

There are so many strengths to A Memory of Violets. The London of both 1876 and 1912 comes to life through the rich descriptions. The plight of London’s poor made me dig deeper into the historical record. The characters are well-developed and easy to relate to. Their struggles become the reader’s struggles. I was fully immersed in this novel. While not a Christian novel, I was impressed with the author’s treatment of Christian characters. These men and women were truly moved by Christ’s love to serve the least of His children. There is a bit of mild profanity and a supernatural angle that is more plot device than theology, but all in all I loved this novel and would recommend it to anyone. There is definitely something for everyone — history, mystery and a bit of romance.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I purchased this book from Barnes and Noble. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

One Response to “Book Review: A Memory of Violets”

  1. nissa_loves_cats June 26, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Sounds like a great book. And worth it just for the beautiful cover alone.

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