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The Florist's Daughter

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  973 ratings  ·  229 reviews
During the long farewell of her mother’s dying, Patricia Hampl revisits her Midwestern girlhood. Daughter of a debonair Czech father, whose floral work gave him entrŽe into St. Paul society, and a distrustful Irishwoman with an uncanny ability to tell a tale, Hampl remained, primarily and passionately, a daughter well into adulthood. She traces the arc of faithfulness and ...more
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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Nancy Rossman
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I first bought this book two or more years ago. From good publicity in literary places, I thought this would be one I SHOULD read. My interest in the book waned by page 26 and I put it aside. This morning for some reason I found it again. My circumstances have changed completely from my first reading. I have NEVER had the realization how much my own situation brought to how I felt about a book until just now.

My 93-year-old mother is frail. A few months ago I figured she would go any time...havin
Särah Nour
Apr 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
I enjoy memoirs. It’s fun for me to read about people with more interesting lives than mine. However, I think writing a memoir poses a challenge, and also involves some risk. How many aspiring writers out there have jotted down ordinary journal entries and sent them in for publication, hoping for a big break? Where do you draw the line between personal disclosure and good storytelling? FYI: pouring your soul into the page doesn’t necessarily make for good writing.

That’s what someone should have
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Love and flowers, death and flowers.” Her mother’s final illness led Hampl to reflect on her upbringing in St. Paul, Minnesota as the daughter of an Irish Catholic library clerk and a Czech florist. I loved the poetic way in which she writes about small-town life, her tense relationship with her mother, and helping out in her father’s flower shop:

“These apparently ordinary people in our ordinary town, living faultlessly ordinary lives … why do I persist in thinking—knowing—they weren’t ordinary
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
According to the biographical info on the back flap of this book, this is Patricia Hampl's fifth memoir. I haven't read any of the others, and since this one left me quite underwhelmed, I'm not sure that I would.

A memoir doesn't absolutely require a narrative arc, but I think that a reader might find the presence of one more rewarding, and this book really doesn't have it. Patricia's presence at her mother's bedside on the night of her death is the framing device for her recollections of growing
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a modest little book, but exquisitely written. Patricia Hampl is a poet as well as prose writer, and it shows. I was very touched by, and I personally related to, the relationship of the grown author and her aging parents. Long ago I read her "Romantic Education" and now I remember that it was the beauty of the writing that made me love it so much. This quote is from her thinking back on schoolgirl days:

"Only poetry and music, it seemed, could express the real things, which were the unsa
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The Florist's Daughter was a hard read for me! "A nothing-happened narrative, our kind of story." The author kept circling around the same subjects, beating a dead horse so to speak, to the point I felt like she was soon going to take me straight to her or my own insanity. Poetic or not where we were headed didn't feel like a healthy place. We seemed incredibly stuck in things we couldn't change like heritage, where we grew up and how our parents see the world. I couldn't understand why we weren ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookmarks
This book is beautifully written.

I just wish the subject matter had been different. I was immediately in love when I started it and got sucked in with the language and style of writing. But that only lasted through the description of the author's sharp edged mother and her mother's relationships with the people and places around her. When the father (the florist) was finally introduced, the climate shifted and it was hard going. Even though this is a memoir and the title includes "daughter", th
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sent to Lara; Steve and Shana for the flowers and St. Paul
Did she ever get her way? Not then, not during her sweetheart period, not till later when she mastered the fine art of being impossible. p. 11

This is a beautifully written, intricately structured memoir in honor of the writer's parents. She deciphers who her parents were and who she became because of them in episodes so poetic, I think she labored over every single word. Because of the title, I thought this would be more about her father, the florist, but there's equal time spent on her mother.
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
I can see why other people would like this memoir but it just didn't sit well with me. It's very poetic, abstract, and non-linear, and I couldn't relate to many of the themes. It's a beautiful book that just isn't my style.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
It'd be 3.5 stars.

Hampl has a dreamy writing-style that seemed especially appropriate as she sat at her dying mother's bedside in the hospital.

Hampl spends these "dead of the night" hours remembering how she ended up there - the daughter of a Czech florist and a library archivist Irish mother.

She jumps from place to place in her history examining her relationship with her parents, as their primary caretaker. She never really left St. Paul, always felt bound to them somehow there - the middle cla
Bookmarks Magazine

"Nothing is harder to grasp than the relentlessly modest life," observes Patricia Hampl, the award-winning author of several memoirs. In The Florist's Daughter, she turns the focus from herself to her parents and their ordinary lives. Resisting the impulse to be sentimental, she "homes in on the unguarded moment, the pivot of contradiction, that reveals character" (Newsday) and brings Stan and Mary Hampl to vivid life in her lovely prose and breathtaking metaphors. Critics note that the title is

Jun 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
The book started off with Patricia Hampl at her mother's bedside. The first third to half was dedicated to just being by that bedside. I liked how it started off that way, made it interesting, but for such a short book, there was too much emphasis on that. I'm fine with a certain percentage of a book being dreary, but this one had too much of it. And I thought it might have a little more to do with a flower shop of some kind, a little more on a parent (this one being the father) being a florist ...more
Patricia Tyburczy-bettis
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Despite the geographical location of Old St. Paul, I found much similarity in Patricia Hampl's story, with my own upbringing. And I loved how she went back and forth in her memories between the influences and personalities of each of her unique and distinct parents. It seems a universal story about the role of the daughter, and certainly rang true with my life, as my mother was also the one who lingered with terminal conditions after my father died from congestive heart disease, and I became her ...more
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This beautifully written memoir is the work of the florist's daughter whose Czech father accepted her as a poet, and whose Irish mother constantly reminded her she was a writer. A writer, a poet --small difference compared to the major differences between her parents'cultural backgrounds, outlooks on life, and relationships with their daughter. Their life stories are told with humor, compassion and a unique insight that allows the reader to be there, to really know these people. There isn't anyo ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. She a great writer and it's a very well written, suprising and touching memoir of her parents. I read this book based on the NYTimes review so I'll quote a bit of it here, "...Hampl’s honest examination of her own life makes “The Florist’s Daughter” a wonder of a memoir. A conflicted daughter, a begrudging Midwesterner and a woman who has been besotted by illusions, Hampl proves that the material closest to home is often the richest. Her mother, who complained that he ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because of the reviews praising Hampl's prose as otherworldly, as something one would not expect out of a memoir written in 2007. The Florist's Daughter does not disappoint. It is about everything and nothing; a collection of Hampl's memories and instances that tied together Irish and Czech heritage while she was growing up in St. Paul, MN in the 50's and 60's. We begin with Hampl clutching the hand of her dying mother while with her free hand, writing her obituary. Like her fl ...more
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautifully written memoir about the author's parents. The author grew up on St.Paul's West End and Crocus Hill neighborhoods and the book contains wonderful descriptions of St.Paul and it's neighborhoods. My grandparents lived on the West End, and I appraise property there now, so the neighborhood evokes particular memories for me. There were also some uncanny similarities with my parents lives that were particularly touching to me. I enjoyed the book very much, so much so that I sta ...more
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Hampl makes me feel nostalgic for St Paul, though I only live ten minutes from there. Honestly. The way she describes her childhood, her growing up Catholic and Irish and Czech reminds me of my childhood, growing up Catholic and Irish and German. The death of her parents is something I dread with my own parents. And I long to escape, to go somewhere, to do something important, but will probably, ultimately, never truly be able to leave Old St Paul- I still call Macy's Dayton's, and I go to Landm ...more
Jenny Roth
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny by: Dylan
This refreshing memoir tells the story of ordinary lives--ordinary in the fact that no one in the book is famous, drug-addled, or suffers undue hardship. What's remarkable about Hampl's story of her parents' lives is how extraordinary it is. They may not have been millionaires, celebrities, or war heroes, but they were good people and good parents, and that fact alone makes them worthy of writing and reading about. Inspiring.
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I checked this book out of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh after finishing "I Could Tell You Stories," and enjoyed it during a trip back to Minnesota to visit family this spring. Hampl's descriptions of Old St. Paul remind me of all of the best parts of the city, and open a window into the time before I-94 and 35E were routed through its neighborhoods, and into the lives of Czech and Irish immigrants and their families during the midcentury.
Wendy Welch
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What pretty, pretty writing, telling such a soft story. It's funny that the quintessential American novels so often turn out to be memoirs. She captures the depression-era children in adulthood and the end of the gentility of old families with old money in new cities--and she does it with such beautiful language.

This is not so much a captivating book as a charming one. I was sorry when it was finished.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
I only read the first fifty pages, and found absolutely nothing in this book that would compel me to continue. I only read that far because it was a book club choice, and I thought if everyone talked it up, I would finish. But nobody liked it.

Basically, it was like a lady I didn't know suddenly started complaining to me about her life, but I had no way of connecting with her at all, and there wasn't any story to it. It was just a stranger complaining. I was bored.
Jan 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really like this book a lot. Hampl writes beautifully, and the depiction of her relationships with each of her parents rings true. I also identified with some of her struggles to understand her mother. My favorite aspect of the book was the description of of various locations in St. Paul. I could picture most of them, and that added to my enjoyment of the book.
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: If you like memoirs or nonfiction locale stories
Recommended to Morgan by: Bonnie's book
Memoir. A wonderful evocation of pre-turnpike St. Paul, MN, and the ethnic communities and rich - middle - poor families. At first I was bored--she seemed distanced from her story, but at the book went on, she drew closer (or maybe I did) and became more poetic. Raised in me questions about my own childhood and feelings of being a outsider.

I'll read it again.
Jun 10, 2010 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I wanted to be committed to the people and wrapped up in their life. I just wasn't. But that didn't stop me from crying when her mom died. I mean, how can you read a death scene and not cry!?
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A sweet memoir, and a beautifully written, nostalgic look at St. Paul in mid 20th century by a highly skilled writer. Poetic prose and language. If you just marvel at fine writing and amazingly gifted turn of phrasing.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've been reading memoirs to gear up for reading a really challenging memoir. This one was beautifully done; really gives a sense of place and relationships.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Patricia Hampl is an artist with words. The page is her easel, her vocabulary her paints and her syntax is her brush. This memoir is written beautifully and honestly.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This is Hampl's fifth (!) memoir, a meditation upon her parents and her relationship with them. Hampl grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and (according to this book) never left. She cared for her parents through multiple illnesses. Her father died of heart failure, her mother eventually of a number of illnesses, dementia finally obliterating much of her ability to relate to the real world, something that Hample took in her stride. Hampl's memoir is not of the confessional variety --- there are few l ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
While her mother lay in the hospital dying, Patricia Hampl began writing this quiet introspective meditation on her two parents. She describes her parents' "relentlessly modest life" (and her own) as middle class folks living "ordinary" lives in middle America. While the author was determined to "get away," in the end she finds herself caring for her parents as they age and eventually pass away. She describes her hard-edged, bookish Irish mother and her handsome naive Czech father (the florist) ...more
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Patricia Hampl’s most recent book is The Florist’s Daughter, winner of numerous “best” and “year end” awards, including the New York Times “100 Notable Books of the Year” and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, published in 2006 and now in paperback, was also one of the Times Notable Books; a portion was chosen for The Best Sp ...more

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