Apeiron's Reviews > Flowers from the Storm

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
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's review
May 03, 2011

really liked it
Recommended for: people who like slow build-up in romance, people who like remarkable and remarkably tortured heroes

After putting this book down, I was frustrated with it beyond recognition. Back then, a week ago, I would have given it two stars, tops. But those several days later, when emotions calmed down, and I read two other wildly popular romance books, I give it 4 stars, because "Flowers..." is simply an amazing novel.

Let me start with the bad parts, so that I can get them out of the way and make myself rather clear that I do recommend this book. And the bad parts can be summarized in two words: Archimedea Timms. She is one of the most frustrating, spineless, gullible and self-righteous heroines I've had the displeasure to read about. She is a pious, judgemental, cowardly girl in the disguise of an angel of mercy. I'm still at a loss as to what kind of message Laura Kinsale was trying to send us with this character - she put a lot of effort into explaining her motivations for acting this selfishly, only those explanations fall a little short as Maddy's motivations always look like good intentions with invariably selfish and pious foundations; when she decides to help Jervaulx at the asylum, it's because God wants her to, when things take a turn to the worse, when Christian finds a way to escape his bloodthirsty relatives who want to shut him in the asylum for good, Maddy has to be dragged along whining and screaming, even though Christian depends on her completely. When Christian needs her the most, she's too busy judging his lifestyle and hiding behind her Quaker doctrines to just be by his side - because that's all he asks. Everything I disliked in this book is connected to Maddy. Her justifications for acting against her beliefs were that of a spineless coward, her relationship with Jervaulx was implausible, because it was more codependency than love or respect. Her constant quakerish bon mots and behavior towards "people of the world" was judgemental and rude. Basically, because of her the whole romance plot fell flat for me.

Now, the good parts, good gracious! Jervaulx, Jervaulx, Jervaulx! A tortured hero that you never feel is over-the-top. Even when incapacitated by his illness, he fights to stay strong, motivated and admirable. When his self-confidence plummets as he fails time and again to take control of his own body, you feel his struggle and frustration, and cheer him on as he refuses to give up despite humiliations. He is incredibly smart. The only thing not to like about him is his and Maddy's codependency. Flowers from the Storm has a strong cast of secondary characters who push the story at a dizzying pace at some points, and keep the periods of no-action interesting. There's a fantastic intrigue involving financial matters that make my head spin, and well-balanced villains. The moral gray zone takes most of this story's spectrum. This book, despite its length, was an ultimate page-turner for me. As I compare it to the few other romance books of XX and XXI century, it stands out from the crowd like a snow giant, with its meticulously crafted intrigue and the unbelievable work that was put into building the story of Jervaulx. Even the cop-out ending will have a hard time cancelling out the hours of simply wonderful writing that pulls you in with the force of a black hole.
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Fatma WOW your review is amazing...I agree with everything you said..it is like you read what was in my mind..I hated Archimedea Timms and I think her character has ruined what should have been an amazing book.

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