From the author of the USA Today bestseller The Girl Who Came Home comes an unforgettable historical novel that tells the story of two little sisters - orphaned flower sellers - and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.
1876. Among the filth and depravity of Covent Garden’s flower markets, orphaned Irish sisters Flora and Rosie Flynn sell posies of violets and watercress to survive. It is a pitiful existence, made bearable only by the presence of each other. When they become separated, the decision of a desperate woman sets their lives on very different paths.
1912. Twenty-one-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 orphaned and crippled flower girls, taking them off the streets. For Tilly, the appointment is a fresh start; a chance to leave her troubled past behind.
Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a notebook belonging to Flora Flynn. Hidden between the pages she finds dried flowers and a heartbreaking tale of loss and separation as Flora’s entries reveal how she never stopped looking for her sister. 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.
William Morrow Trade Paperback; February 3, 2015; $14.99; ISBN: 9780062316899
I thought this books was an original and interesting and emotional story about allow yourself to move past loss, find forgiveness in your heart and using strength to move forward. This story was set against the backdrop of the plight of the 19th-early 20th century flower and watercress sellers of London. This made the story unlike any I have read! There is something in this book for every reader and I found it to be both fascinating and interesting at the same time. It kept me engaged and wanting to keep turn the pages! 4 stars
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. I am always inspired by fascinating people and events from the past. History is such a rich source of inspiration and I find it exciting to take a relatively unknown piece of the past and craft a novel around it.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. I love writing stories – it’s as simple as that! To create characters that readers ultimately connect with and empathise with is wonderful.
Q. What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Self-doubt. As I am writing my third novel, I am realising that it doesn’t get any easier. There is always that nagging voice telling you it is terrible and everyone will hate it! You just have to ignore it, carry on writing and produce the best book you possibly can.
Q. If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. Writing is very much a second career to me (I came to it in my late 30s), so I’ve experienced plenty of other career options, none of which were anywhere near as enjoyable. I juggle my writing with being a mum, so the two jobs keep me pretty busy! If I absolutely couldn’t be a writer, I love to own a vineyard in
That wouldn’t be too bad. Tuscany
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. CHAPTER ONE.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. I have so many, it’s almost impossible to choose one. I recently re-read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and fell in love with it all over again. The characters of Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham are just brilliant.
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. Wow. Tough question. I’d love to think of myself as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby, but I’m probably more like Kanga from Winnie The Pooh!
Q. What character from all of your books are you most like?
A. Tilly Harper from A MEMORY OF VIOLETS is most like me, especially her love of the outdoors and the
I think a lot of me came out in her creation, albeit uncousciously. I spent
many happy family holidays in the Lakes as a child, and still visit as often as
I can. It’s a very beautiful part of . England
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. Oooo, I’d definitely love to live in the world of Pride & Prejudice for a weekend, especially if there was a Netherfield Ball happening. It would be lovely to meet the Bennett sisters and Mr Darcy, of course!
Q. What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now?
A. For discovering lots of delicious gins and for writing great books that people still talk about.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. Autumn. I love the colours and walks in the woods on a sunny, crisp autumn day. I was engaged, married and had both my children in autumn, so it’s a very significant season for me.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. I am very lucky to have a fantastic and very talented design team at my publishers, William Morrow. I adore my book covers for THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME and for A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and they are often commented on. I am also fortunate to be asked for my input and collaboration on the designs, and the team make sure I am happy before it is signed off. The theme and the era have been big factors in the look and feel of both book covers. I honestly couldn’t be happier with them!
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. When I was promoting THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, I made a couple of trips to the wonderful Titanic Belfast museum to do a book signing. I was set up at a table in the main lobby, just outside the gift shop. Despite lots of posters explaining who I was, lots of people approached me to ask me where the toilets were, or where they could get a taxi from. They thought I was tourist information! I especially loved the moment when a very sweet lady sidled up to me and whispered, ‘It’s a very good book. Did you read it?’ She couldn’t believe it when I told her I’d written it.
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Yes. I am in the early stages of a novel set in the roaring 1920s of post-war
It tells the story of a young chambermaid at the London hotel who becomes a star of the stage.
I’m loving researching the era and am excited to see the book and my characters
coming together. Savoy
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. I’d love to say thank you for reading this great interview (some very original questions!). I hope followers of the blog, or visitors, are inspired to read A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and look forward to introducing lots of new readers to my books.
Times Bestselling Author Hazel Gaynor York
I sometimes describe myself as one part writer, two parts mum and I think this is a pretty accurate description! Life as a writer with two young boys is certainly busy, and far from the idyllic image people might have of a place of calm and serenity to channel my writing muse! Writing happens when the kids are at school and in snatched moments between playdates and rugby training and cooking the dinner. It’s busy, messy and, at times, chaotic – but it’s also wonderful and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
I started writing in 2009, following redundancy when I was in my late 30’s. From my fledgling experience as a parenting blogger, to freelancing for the local press and eventually starting the novel I’d been talking about for years, my route to publication has been far from straightforward. But all the ups and downs, the pain of rejections, the nerves as the book eventually goes out into the world have all been so worth it. To finally see my books in the hands of readers is very special indeed. It just goes to show that you should never give up, and that it is never too late to start.
It was sometime in 2010 when I first started to scribble notes and ideas for a novel based around the lives of
’s flower sellers at the turn of the
century. That novel would eventually become A MEMORY OF VIOLETS. I’d loved Pygmalion
and My Fair Lady since playing the role of Eliza Doolittle in the
school musical (of which there is, unfortunately, video evidence!) I wanted to
understand more about the real Elizas – the young women who sold flowers and
watercress on the streets of Victorian and Edwardian-era London . London
During my research, I was surprised to learn that many of the youngest flower sellers were orphaned, blind or physically disabled in some way. I also discovered the work of Victorian philanthropist, John Groom, who gave many of these young girls and women a home at his ‘crippleage’ where he taught them how to make artificial flowers and took them off the streets. Their work became widely known in
, and eventually led to their involvement in the very first Queen Alexandra Rose Day in June 1912. But it was when I read Henry Mayhew’s, London Labour & The London Poor, in which he records detailed interviews with London’s street sellers from the late 1800s, that I came across an account of two orphaned watercress sellers. I knew immediately that I had found my story and that I wanted to combine the idea of two orphaned sisters with the work of John Groom and his Flower Homes. London
Since my debut novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, was published in April 2014, I’ve been blown away by the reaction of readers. I love receiving messages through my website and am always very touched when readers take the time to contact me and share their response to my characters. To have watched the novel go from being self-published, to a fully-fledged book published across the
and to then hit the New York Times bestsellers on three occasions has been
simply amazing, and I’m so very grateful to all the readers who made this
I am now very excited to be publishing my second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and can’t wait to see what this next chapter of my writing life will bring.
HAZEL GAYNOR AUTHOR BIO
Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, 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. She appeared as a guest speaker at the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Historical Novel Society annual conferences in 2014.
Hazel now lives in with her husband and two children. Ireland
For more information, visit Hazel’s website at http://www.hazelgaynor.com/ or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hazelgaynorbooks or follow her on Twitter @HazelGaynor
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