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The Night Flower

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Two girls are brought together under the worst of circumstances: a prison ship taking them from London to 'parts beyond the sea'.

Miriam is a Romany girl drawn from freedom in the hills of the North-East to London to eke a living playing her tin-whistle in a city where her people are despised. When her mother dies - from cholera, the 'gypsy disease' - she's caug
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by Tindal Street (first published February 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  66 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Jennifer (JC-S)
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarybooks
‘There’s times in here I have to check I ain’t just gone and died already. All I’ve got is a pile of hours, and hours ain’t what people think they are.’

Usually, a 14 year old orphaned gypsy girl and a 26 year old widowed governess would not have much in common. Usually. But in 1842, when Miriam Booth is convicted of burglary and Rose Winter is convicted for the theft of fourteen silver knives and forks and one ring, both are sentenced to seven years transportation. Both will sail on
Two women with very different class backgrounds and voices meet on a convict ship to Van Diemen’s Land, their lives (and motherhood) enmeshed in crime. The gritty look at the realities of Victorian sexuality, including prostitution, abortion and venereal disease, recalls Janette Jenkins’s Little Bones and Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. A somewhat bleak, but distinctive and well-drawn, character study.

(See my full review at The Bookbag.)
Emily Flagstad
Aug 31, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. What a horrible book.
Claire O'Sullivan
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Read for work Reading Group. An ok read, well written characters.
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There's so much I loved about this novel - the characters, the period, the plot and the language. From the get-go the story draws you in as we follow Rose and Miriam right across to the other side of the world. Life in Tasmania isn't much better than it was back in Blighty, but it offers a fascinating insight into what lay in store for female convicts, especially those unfortunate enough to be Romany gypsies.

Stovell is an accomplished writer, and can conjure up a scene with just a fe
Katey Lovell
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sarah Stovell is a fantastic talent. The Night Flower was written as part of her PhD in Creative Writing and is an immersive, enlightening novel.

Miriam, a sweet young Romany gypsy, is orphaned and in order to survive befriends headstrong Katie-May. Led astray by her new friend, Miriam's life changes dramatically.

Rose is the opposite of Miriam- well brought up, well turned out and a mother who takes her role seriously. However, as her life changes beyond recognition her future mirrors that of
Saoirse Milotte
Nov 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Rose is a high born lady whose life is thrown into disarray when her father is arrested and her husband dies. Separated from her children and forced to work as a governess she makes one bad decision that has devastating consequences. Miriam is a young gypsy girl trying to make a living in the city but when her mother dies she finds herself caught up with the wrong crowd. Thrown together on a convict ship heading to Tasmania the two women soon realise that there is no escaping the harsh realities ...more
Felicity Terry
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Essentially the story of two very different individuals, Miriam, a young Romany girl and Rose, a disgraced mother and governess, who, both convicts, are transported from Victorian London to Van Dieman's Land
where they find themselves working side by side in a nursery for the babies of fellow convicts.

A memorable if not exactly comfortable read. The Night Flower is a wonderfully moving story of stigma, prejudice and self-righteous 'Christian' rehabilitation that is as hypocritical as
Katie Snow
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sexual transgression, Christian hypocrisy, abortion, defunct motherhood and venereal disease all make an appearance in a novel which lays bare the bleak realities of Victorian criminal society. I’ve never learnt anything before about the convict colonies and this dark insight into life in Van Diemen’s Land (‘parts beyond the sea’) will stick with me.

Read my full review at

Thank you :)
I enjoyed this a lot, way more than I expected to when picking it up, and I'm glad I did. The story is very immersive and I found it hard to put it down, which is interesting, seeing as how it wasn't an easy or happy read. The character of Miriam felt very real to me, and I just wanted to whisk her away from all the terrible people that she kept trusting. Rose, on the other hand, was very unsympathetic, at least to me. I could say more but /spoilers/, and also I'm tired...
Jane Walker
May 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.5 really.
I was not all that impressed to start with. Stovell has to distinguish the voices of her two narrators, and while Rose speaks standard English (though rather modern English), Miriam's voice is never quite convincing, with its sprinkling of abbreviations and wrong tenses. However, the story developed in unexpected ways along with the characters. A very good debut novel.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really didn't enjoy this book. The characterisations and voices of the characters were patchy at best and knowing the history that it's based upon I felt like the bones of a good story were wasted in this novel - more editing would have made for a much better novel.
Michelle Toward
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Written beautifully, really easy to be transported into their world and imagine how awful life must have been in those times.

Highly recommended read.
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