The Colour of Water In July by Nora Carroll

thecolorofwaterinjuly

Length: 251 pages

What they say:

It’s been a long seventeen years since Jess last saw her grandmother or visited the family cottage set on an idyllic lake in Northern Michigan. For all that time, she’s been haunted by loss—of her innocence and her ability to trust and, most of all, of a profound summer romance that might have been something more. So when her grandmother leaves the house to her, Jess summons her courage and returns to a place full of memories—and secrets.

There, she stumbles upon old letters and photographs of a time not so much forgotten as buried. As she begins to unravel the hidden histories of her mother and her grandmother, she makes a startling discovery about a tragic death that prompted her family’s slow undoing. With every uneven and painful step into the past, Jess comes closer to a truth that could alter her own path—and open a door to a different future.

The Review: I’m ashamed to say that I kept bypassing this book on my Kindle. I think from the cover I thought that this would be a heavier read than it actually was, plus I’m not fully au fait with historical fiction, and so I took a step back. Once I actually got down to it, I read it in three nights (I could probably have read in one or two sittings had it not been a hectic few days), spending each day looking forward to when the night time came so I could pick up on where the story left off.

‘There must be a precise moment when wet cement turns dry, when it no longer accepts footprints or scratched-in declarations of love, an ordinary moment, unnoticed, just like any. But in that moment, the facts of life can change.’

This is how the story begins. We jump between two stories, that of Jess, who has arrived at her now deceased gran’s cottage, in a magnificent setting, overlooking the lake at Michegan, and her Gran. We were shown tragedies through Jess and Mamie’s eyes, with the stories overlapping and yet not, such was the way we were let in on secrets and heartbreaking revelations as the story went further back through the ages to secrets that impacted on Jess and her family. I loved that the Gran’s story was told from when she was older, and so we were looking back, as far or as near as we needed.

Jess recounted her idea of what happened years ago, a story of a Summer that would never be forgotten, either by Jess or her Gran, a Summer full of love and drama. I loved the innocence that we could find in places, that peaceful, lying about, lazy carry on. The descriptions in this book were so beautiful and vivid and I could picture every family setting, every romantic scene, and then every trauma and heartbreaking event that happened. And there were many of those.

This book was like a lesson in how to do dramatic twists, with surprises, shocks and gasp out loud moments as you uncovered the reasons true love was never allowed to fluorish. The secrets and lies broke your heart and made you want to read on, the romance took your breath away, the story never disappointed. The ending was excellent, and surprisingly for me I think I’d read it again(as a teen or a child I re-read books over and over again, not so far as an adult). Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Top read of 2015: A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

 

A Memory Of Violets

What they say: The author of the USA Today and New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home has once again created an unforgettable historical novel. Step into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

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 arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.

 

The review: It is very unusual to adore a book where the hype surrounding it is so momentous. From the second I began to read this book I was hooked. Unfortunately to now I hadn’t read much historical fiction but this is very likely to change that. The book opened with a prologue; ‘Florrie’ speaking to us of her sister as a baby, how she decided how and why she loved her so much and the bond that connected them. Life was hard for Florrie

“my leg won’t grow proper, see, cause of the polio I had as a baby. I’ve an old stick for a crutch”

and her sister, Rosie, who

“lives her life in the dark, so she does. Poor little Rosie with her useless eyes.”

Together they go about selling their flowers in Covent Garden, barely surviving and yet happy to exist solely because of their love for each other.

“And then we wait for the morning to come and the flowers to arrive. Just me an’ Little Sister. Waiting in the dark. ‘Don’t let go, Rosie,’ I whisper. ‘Don’t let go.’”

The descriptions of their living conditions reeled me in and contrasted spectacularly with those of the flowers they sold, spectacular beauties of varying hues that illuminated the dark, gloomy streets of London.

We were soon introduced to Mr Shaw’s Training Home for Watercress and Flower Girls as Matilda Harper(Tilly) began her train journey to become assistant housemother. Throughout the book we were given snapshots of what Tilly was running from, and I felt for her. The characters she met here were wonderful, so alive that, again, I was right there with them, watching the bustling housekeeper and the girls, of varying disabilities, who had such a talent and dedication towards their work with flowers. I loved especially how Tilly had remembered them all in terms of what they were lacking, but she soon came to see and understand their personalities, teaching her a thing or two!

The drama in this book was flawless. My heart broke as I read the diary entries detailing ‘Flora’s journey’ and was nervous about what had happened to her beloved sister. The secrets that surrounded Florrie and Rosie Flynn, as well as that which Tilly was running from, were revealed perfectly, with surprises and shocks that hit you hard.

I read the paperback of this book and to be honest I couldn’t imagine an e-book version; the paperback was exquisite. It was everything the content was, beautiful, breathtaking, charming. On the bookshelf that displays our scant collection of adults books (we bring adults books to the charity to allow our childrens’ books collection to flourish) it was the one that screamed to be read, matching only Kate Morton’s gorgeous ‘The Secret Keeper.’ That being said, I think this could be perfect in audioformat, it reads the way I remember books such as ‘Under The Hawthorn Tree’ and ‘The Wildflower Girl’. At the end of the book, there are notes from the memoirs of Albert Shaw, and these were such a bonus, I absolutely devoured them and Ms. Gaynor shot up even more in my estimation that she could take notes such as these and yet do them justice in such a magnificent way. I’ve seen this as quite a few people’s top read for 2015 and I’ll join them. Cannot wait to read more of Ms. Gaynor. Top read of 2015.

Rating: 5/5