Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers” as Want to Read:
A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers

by
3.94  ·  Rating details ·  9,120 ratings  ·  1,294 reviews
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
...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Memory of Violets, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Vicki Yes. I got the audio version. Very nice.
Lucinda Vinoski If you love flowers, children and stories of long ago, then yes and yes again!

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,120 ratings  ·  1,294 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Diane S ☔
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a heartwarming and a heart wrenching novel. Set in the early 1900's it highlights the misfortune of the children, many homeless, that populated London. Many were crippled, ill used by those in their small hovels, and others had no one. They sold flowers to survive, to eat or to stop them from getting a beating at home for not bringing back enough money.

Albert Shaw, based on the very real John Grooms, saw their misfortune and started homes for these poor young woman. When they are old en
...more
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

4 Stars!

Every once in a while, I am lucky enough to pick up a book that I just can't seem to get out of my mind. This was one of those books. I found myself thinking about this book constantly during the course of my day. I told my daughter about it and anyone else who would listen. I couldn't turn the story off in my head. I just had to know what happened to Florrie and Rosie.

My favorite parts of the book were were set in the late 1800's in
...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tilly, Flora, and Rosie...three characters connected by time, London, and flowers.

Flora, crippled and in care of her little sister since their mother died, lost her younger, blind sister Rosie on the street as they were selling flowers. Flora made it her life's quest to find Rosie. Tilly, a housemother at an orphanage where Flora stayed years before, makes a connection to both Flora and Rosie through a diary Tilly finds in the closet in her room at the orphanage.

Tilly feels she was destined to f
...more
Susan Johnson
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book about the plight of the poor in the late 1880's to the 1910's but it about so much more. The book centers around two young flowers sellers in London in the 1880's. The two girls, 8 and 4, are firmly bonded after their mother's death and the avoidance of their father who beats them when they don't make enough money. Their life is horrendous and the descriptions literally brought me to tears.

They become separated one fateful day and the older one, Florrie, spends her life se
...more
Melinda
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Quite a meaningful story of sisters, embracing love, extraordinary kindness and altruism.

Alternating between the present and the past – London 1912 and London 1876 we read of two young women and their individual stories of their relationship with their sisters ensnarled in misfortune. Parallel, contrasting the stories reveal the bonds and unfastening of sisters.

Gaynor’s extensive research cannot go unnoticed as she delves into the disparity of the wealthy and impoverished coexisting in Victorian
...more
Mo
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars

I read to be transported to a different place and time. This book was so riddled with implausible coincidences that I was never able to become immersed in the story - I kept shaking my head, thinking “Yeah, right!” After about the 8th “remarkable” coincidence, it became ridiculous.

The author has an engaging writing style, but she needs to pay more attention to period details. I found it very hard to believe in the Edwardian England as portrayed. The characters did not speak nor act a
...more
Samantha
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So when this book arrived for review, my mum couldn't resist and she wanted to review it for me. Here is her review:

Such a lovely well written novel; as a Londoner and former florist who was a regular 4am visitor to old Covent Garden I could almost smell the flowers in this book. I remember the hustle and bustle of the early morning traders, cupping and blowing into my frozen fingers and feeling the warmth of tea or hot chocolate to keep out the cold, banging my frozen feet on the ground waiting
...more
Carole
This story is set at the turn of the century, and alternates between Tilly, who goes to live as a house mother at an orphanage for crippled girls who make flowers, and Florrie and her little sister, Rosie. They are little girls surviving in poverty on the streets of London. One day they are separated, and Florrie spends her life missing, and searching for Rosie.
I loved this historical fiction, and highly recommend if you liked Secrets Of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner.
Nefertari
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
The one real strength in this book is the description of the London streets, the evocative imagery of flower sellers and the trials they went through.

This book suffers from several enormous problems, however. While I won't give away the plot, the concept of "plot twist" is abandoned in favor of some of the most improbable coincidences I've ever read. I just remember shaking my head in disgust. You can use coincidence once, even twice, and get away with it - but five or six times, and it's just r
...more
Sue Seligman
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book by Hazel Gaynor that I have read. Based on true events, this novel is about the flower sellers who lived hand to mouth in the streets of London during the 1800s and 1900s. The author tells this riveting story through alternating points of view and time periods. We are introduced to eight year old Florrie Flynn and her blind sister, four year old Rosie, who spend hours on the streets selling flowers to wealthy passers by in order to bring home money to support their alcoho ...more
Trudy
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5 Stars (Audio Version. So, yes, I cried at the end. Not because it was sad, but because it was achingly beautiful. This book contained so many things I love:

- Sister Love
- 1912 England
- Beautiful Lilting Irish Voice
- Champions of Disabled Children
- A Sweet Whispered Love Story
- Poverty Stricken Women Finding Their Places in the World
- Lovely Piano Music at the beginning and again at the end
- Forgiveness
- The Often Overlooked Beauty of Death
- and FLOWERS, FLOWERS, FLOWERS

The only regret I hav
...more
Agi
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite, 2015
Every once in a while you read a book that just takes your breath away, blows your mind away and leaves you speechless for a long, long time. "A Memory of Violets" was such a book. I could describe this novel in one word only without a problem and this word would be: "beautiful"! I needed to gather my thoughts first before I started to write a review for this book at all, and still I am not sure if I can do it a justice with my words. It was so brilliant that it is, in fact, indescribable. I am ...more
Branwen *of House Targaryen*
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Branwen *of House Targaryen* by: Carole
Give the world your best, and the best will come back to you.

To escape a troubled past an a complicated family situation, twenty-nine year old Tilly leaves her beautiful home in the Lake District for the confined and sometimes brutal city of London to work as an assistant housemother in Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls, a place of refuge for the homeless and crippled girls selling flowers in the streets. The year is 1912. But despite the harsh reality of life here, Tilly sees beauty a
...more
Donna
Mar 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This is historical fiction set in the late 1800's and early 1900's, which I enjoy. This book was a solid 3 stars for me. I liked the characters. I liked the plot. It had a great premise and it felt like I was being introduced to something new.

As far as the writing goes, I expected more descriptive strokes regarding the characters and how they navigated their journey. They were also quite similar in action and thought. However, there was plenty of description regarding the sense of place. That p
...more
Karen
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having loved Hazel’s debut novel, The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic, I was very much looking forward to this and I was lucky enough to win a signed copy in a competition run by the author. The story is inspired by true events which makes it an even more of a poignant read. My copy was a proof and not a finished one but it had beautiful black and white sketch drawings of flowers at the top of each new chapter page.

It is 1912 and 26 year old Tilly Harper leaves her home in the Lake Di
...more
Lormac
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Let me start by saying that my mother absolutely adored this book. She couldn't stop talking about it and recommended it to anyone who would listen. I kind of thought that it might not be my cup of tea, but when I saw the audio book at the library, I thought I would give it a listen.

Well, I was right. The plot contrivances are ridiculous and innumerable. The fact that these characters (or their parents) would be bumping into each other all the time all over England is just absurd. There is a rom
...more
Cosima
Tilly has left her country home to work as a housemother at a home for crippled and orphaned flower girls in 1912 London. She finds her attention drawn to the possessions of a previous housemother, a disabled woman named Florrie. What follows is a tale of sisterhood, loss, and redemption as the story moves back and forth in time between a newly confident Tilly and a young, heartbroken Forrie.

The beginning of "A Memory of Violets" was confusing because of the constant switching around from charac
...more
Gina
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMGGGG I LOVED this sweet story! Such a welcome change from the heavy stuff I'd been reading and the crappy two months I have had. Nicola Barber, one of my very favorite narrators, does the most wonderful voices in this one, especially the Irish girls' accents. It takes some talent to switch perspectives and time periods and not confuse the reader, and Hazel Gaynor does a bang-up job. I adored Tilly and my heart broke for Florrie when her "Little Sister" disappeared. I guessed at the mystery, wh ...more
Deborah Pickstone
I considered giving this 1 star but ended by being kinder. Poor writing, cute plotting (not a compliment), trite, twee and irritating - yet readable enough, just. For me, the worst irritant was Florrie's journal being written inan accent, possibly meant to be Irish - this simply wouldn't happen: 'gen'lemen, shimmerin' etc; if she could spell in brogue, she could spell in normal! Also, she was born and grew up in London and while there may have been some flavour of the brogue from her mother (who ...more
Michele
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5
You know how some books just fill an emotional need that you are having at the time?
Well, this book did just that for me.
It had a real wholesomeness and utter goodness that I so needed at the time. It is not perfect but it has some good, caring people and I enjoyed this book so much. I think you will enjoy it too.
Lynn
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story takes place in two time periods: in 1876 London, where 2 sisters, Florrie and Rosie are forced to sell flowers and watercress on the streets in all sorts of weather. Florrie, age 8, uses a crutch and Rosie, age 4,is blind. First their mother then their drunken father dies and they are left in the care of an uncaring aunt. One day while they are out selling flowers, Rosie disappears. Florrie spends the rest of her life trying to find her.

In 1912, a young woman, Tilly Harper arrives at
...more
Gina
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my all time favorites.

The story revolves around Tilly Harper and begins in 1912 London. Tilly, 20, secures a position of Assistant Housemaster at Mr. Shaw's Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. The home is a place where formerly orphaned or crippled street children are living. There, they create beautiful flowers which are then sold on the streets of Victorian London.

While there, Tilly discovers a diary that was left behind by a flower girl in the late 1800's. At this point
...more
Ann
...delicate beauty can be created by those who have known only hardship.

During 1886, Florrie and Rosie are young sisters who sell flowers as a way to earn money, until the unthinkable happens. Even though the epilogue begins with the two girls living in dire circumstances, by the time I completed the book the word 'heartwarming' came to mind.

This historical fiction novel is inspired by real people and events, including Victorian philanthropist John Groom's organization that he created help disa
...more
Tracey
This was a truly lovely read. I enjoyed the setting of London and Clacton in Victorian England . The entwined stories over 36 years apart had a magical feel to it and at one point I actually got shivers whilst reading the book.it was that atmospheric. but what I loved most was the meaning of the flowers and it's use of heading parts of the book perfectly with the parts of the story being TD.
I'm thankful that I saw this book at work, and that the title & book cover caught eye which resulted
...more
Judy Collins
Hazel Gaynor, delivers a poignant and heartwarming tale, A MEMORY OF VIOLETS; A NOVEL OF LONDON’S FLOWER SELLERS, written in magical lyrical-like prose featuring Tilly, Flora, and Rosie, connected by life, history, love, time, tragedy, and a special love of flowers.

From the author of The Girl Who Came Home comes an unforgettable historical novel that tells the story of two long-lost sisters, orphaned flower sellers, and a young woman who is transformed by their experiences.

Set in the late 1800
...more
Elizabeth
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
There are a lot of great reviews for this book. Mine will not be one of them.

I am able to enjoy a fluffy novel every once in a while, but this one is just not intelligent enough for me. First of all, there are too many coincidences and non-surprising revelations that it just isn't realistic. At times I was screaming the word, "Imbecile!" to these characters. And then at myself for continuing to read.

This type of book has its place for a certain kind of reader. Just not on my shelf.

I gave an ex
...more
Citra
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
*gasping for air*

Full review is here : @ Fictionbookreview.com

This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Beautifully written, wonderful characters and gosh! It toyed with my heart. I am still dabbing my tears as I am writing this. Prepare a box of tissue, people!
Marilyn
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful heart warming story about a sad part of living post World War 1 in England. These talented little orphans girls and women give us great insight into their determination when given a second chance. Lovely characters and an easy read, with a little mystery and romance thrown in.
Renita D'Silva
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Beautiful and evocative and heartrending.
Trish at Between My Lines
This review was originally posted on Between My Lines

I LOVED this book especially the Victorian setting, the characters and the importance of flowers to the storyline.  It’s inspiring, refreshingly different and one I already know that I’d love to read again sometime.
Why I joined this book tour?
I have heard lots of great reports about Hazel Gaynor's first book (The Girl Who Came Home) so when I saw the book tour announced for this one and got one glance at the fab cover, I was IN!  The tour is
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Swimming in the Moon
  • Rutherford Park (Rutherford Park #1)
  • The Mapmaker's Children
  • After the War Is Over (The Great War, #2)
  • Summerset Abbey (Summerset Abbey, #1)
  • Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League
  • In Falling Snow
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
  • My Name Is Resolute
  • A Murder at Rosamund's Gate  (Lucy Campion Mysteries, #1)
  • Tapestry
  • A Half Forgotten Song
  • Madame Presidentess
  • The Double Cross (Spanish Brand, #1)
  • Gracianna
  • At the Edge of Summer
  • Chateau of Secrets
  • An Appetite for Violets
See similar books…
1,526 followers
Hazel Gaynor is the acclaimed New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, was an Irish Times and Globe and Mail bestseller, and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Bo ...more
“Give the world your best, and the best will come back to you.” 4 likes
“For there is no friend like a sister In calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, To fetch one if one goes astray, To lift one if one totters down, To strengthen whilst one stands. —Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market,” 1862” 3 likes
More quotes…