Elyse Walters's Reviews > Fresh Water for Flowers

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin
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it was amazing

This book is guaranteed to move you— halfway through, I noticed how choked up I was.....and soon I was crying.
Slowly I was absorbing the depths of this -breathtaking - story.... multi-layered—a type of meditated trance - if you will - between life and death....and how I ( just one tiny person) - belonged to both: life and death in almost equal measure.
I was learning a subtle lesson from the intricate lush details - about how to live fully immersed with what so many others have kept silent.

Violette Toussaint was a cemetery caretaker in a small town in France: Bourgogne- Brancion-en-Chaplin cemetery. She had worked there for more than twenty years..
Violette had an ageless look about herself. She could pass for a 14-year-old or a 25-year-old.

...We meet the gravediggers: Nono, Gaston, and Elvis...
...We meet Violette’s dog: Elaine
...We meet the undertakers: The Lucchini brothers: Pierre, Paul, and Jacques. The Lucchini brothers, ( 38, 39, and 40), were the owners of the Brancion morgue.
...We meet the Priest: Father Cedric Duras

...We meet many visitors: one being a stranger - a local detective - who shows up at Violette’s door early one dark morning. Violette let the strange man into her house and served him coffee ( coffee was always ready to go)....she described her room ( the place she had lived 20 years):
The room that Violette stayed in, really belonged to everyone.
It was a small room with a kitchen-cum-living room. There were no photos on the wall or colorful tablecloths or couches— just lots of plywood and chairs to sit on. Nothing showy… Yes there was always a pot of coffee ready.
It was the room for “desperate cases, tears, confidences, anger, size, despair, and the laughter of the gravediggers”.
Violette’s bedroom was upstairs. She repainted it after her husband Philippe’s disappearance. No one had ever stepped inside her bedroom after he left.
.....There’s more backstory about Philippe Toussaint - their meeting, their short marriage - his handsomeness - his womanizing - and his disappearance.

Violette’s real home was out in the courtyard. She knew almost every dead person, their location, their death, everything.
She had a funny habit when any person visited her house on the grounds though.......(one that was felt deeper to me as the story unfolded)....
Violette never switched on the light in her place if someone came to visit.....but as soon as they would leave, (walk out the door), she replaced them with light, ...
.... an old habit of a child given up at birth.

This was such a heartfelt beautiful book... I’m still on the edge of tears as I sit here reflecting it.
I went back over my notes. I laughed and cried at the same time the second time re-reading gorgeous moments - scenes - in this book
My gosh....I have SUCH A THING for ‘Europa’, books, anyway....and this gem didn’t disappoint!

A couple more things to share - but I don’t want to spoil the actual story about Violette....and her LIFE....( her circumstances, history, people she meets, her gifts, or even too much about her charming unique character)....
but there are a couple of excerpts I can’t resist sharing....
The very beginning is soooo cool! I’ve read this 3 times....and each time...thought of new things:
“My closest neighbors don’t quake in their boots. They have no worries, don’t fall in love, don’t bite their nails, don’t believe in chance, make no promises, or noise, don’t have Social Security, don’t cry, don’t search for their keys, your glasses, the remote control, their children, happiness.”
“They don’t read, don’t pay taxes, don’t go on diets, don’t have preferences, don’t change their minds, don’t make their beds, don’t smoke, don’t write lists, don’t count to 10 before speaking. They have no one to stand in for them”.
“They’re not ass-kissers, ambitious, grudge-bearers, dandies, petty, generous, jealous, scruffy, clean, awesome, funny, addicted, stingy, cheerful, crafty, violent, lovers, whiners, hypocrites, gentle, tough, feeble, nasty, liars, thieves, gamblers, strivers, idlers, believers, perverts, optimists.
“They’re dead”,
“The only difference between them is in the wood of their coffins: pine or mahogany”.

.......sooooo beautiful are the epitaphs at the start of each chapter....
After reading this book - I went through the novel once more...just to read-read many of these powerful engravings....
Impossible not to cry when I read one after another after another

Here are a few:
“There’ll always be someone missing to make my life smile: you”.
“May your rest be as sweet as your heart was kind”.

“His beauty, his youth smiled upon the world in which he would have lived. Then from his hands fell the book of which he has read not a word”.

“Talking about you is making you exist, saying nothing would be forgetting you”.

“Soothe his rest with your sweetest singing”.

“Sleep, Nana, sleep, but may you still hear our childish laughter up there and highest Heaven”.
—— Speech for Marie Geant

“There’s something stronger than death, and that the presence of those absent in the memory of the living”.

“The day someone loves you, the weather’s

“Fresh Water for Flowers is deeply affecting... with flowers “a bit like ladders up to heaven”.....
......written with stunning reserves of compassion, humor, and wisdom. Violette Toussaint is an extraordinary character— a woman of incredible heart and spirit who will remain in my memory for a long time.

Thank you Europa Editions, Netgalley, and Valérie Perrin
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 17, 2020 – Shelved
January 17, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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message 1: by Fergus (new) - added it

Fergus A GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS review, Elyse! Thanks SO very much. You’ve sold me on it.

Elyse  Walters Hi Fergus -- Thank you!!!!
I can't imagine how any reader could get through this book and not 'at minimum' get teary eyes ....

Its making me think its time to go visit my own family --at the Jewish cemetery in Oakland -- Its been awhile.

Hope all is well with you!!! xo

Mary Eve Wow! Just wow! You shared one of my favorite quotes and you captured my feelings about the book's entirety. I was a beautiful story that just enveloped me.

And, yes!! The epitaphs at each chapter were just gorgeous. So many different emotions throughout the pages. I can't wait until the physical copy is released. I've already pre-ordered. ❤

Mary Eve A fabulous review! You put into words what I just could not.

Elyse  Walters Thanks Mary-- I loved your review, too......
and most --I know I'm going to feel closer with you 'forever' as the book that really bonded us....
Its really special to friendship/bond over a book that's really meaningful -- isn't it?
And ...oh...I think this would make a beautiful gift book --
I'll wait until it comes out in the stores -- and maybe --you will inspire me to get a physical copy too... (those quotes alone --and so many powerful ones -- allow us moments alone remember all that we have -- (sure we all have problems) -- but its easier to let them be when we are in touch with many of the messages those quotes --and this story leaves us with.
Thank you, Mary!!!!!!!! smiling ear-to-ear of us both having read it!

Angela M Beautiful review, Elyse . I’m going to see if I can get a copy . If not it’s still going on my list ,

message 7: by Aga (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aga Durka Oh Elyse!! What a beautiful review 💕. Thank you for sharing. I have to read this one. Hopefully I will get the galley 🤞🏼

Karen Such a beautiful review Elyse! 💕

Mary Eve Awww, Elyse!! Yessssss. Bless your sweet heart.😚 We're on the same page. I think this book would be just like giving a hug. It's a powerful story brimming with meaning.

Marilyn Beautiful review, Elyse!

Amanda I am reading this currently and feel the same this book is so beautiful words cannot describe

message 12: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri Such a lovely review, Elyse! I loved this one, and read, and re-read so many passages from this. A hard one to close the pages on, so happy that you loved this one, too!

Elyse  Walters Oh Sherrie I feel exactly the same way with you.... oh I’m so glad we have this year experience this was a really special book. 💕

And I hope you have a lovely
Mother’s Day….... chats with your children and grandchildren etc. 💕

Elyse  Walters Cheri sorry I spelled your name wrong but it wasn’t me honestly it was auto correct
i’m in the pool and talking into the phone.

Antoinette Love your review, Elyse! You have started a chain - I definitely have to read it now1

message 16: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Beautiful review, Elyse. Thanks for sharing the quotes. 🌺

message 17: by C. (new)

C. Hmm. I thought this novel was for me, until two friends mentioned crying or sadness. I don't want that. I refuse that in fiction and entertainment, where we most certainly choose. However if it is a happy cry, fine, or a briefly sad moment with immediate relief and happy outcomes.

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