Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blog Tour (Guest Post, Review and Giveaway): A MEMORY OF VIOLETS by Hazel Gaynor (A)



A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
by Hazel Gaynor
Release date: February 3rd, 2015
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
Format read: eARC from the publisher.


SUMMARY

"For little sister. . . . I will never stop looking for you."

1876. Among the filth and depravity of Covent Garden's flower markets, orphaned Irish sisters Flora and Rosie Flynn sell posies of violets and watercress to survive. It is a pitiful existence, made bearable only by each other's presence. When they become separated, the decision of a desperate woman sets their lives on very different paths.

1912. Twenty-one-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London to become assistant housemother at one of Mr. Shaw's Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the homes have cared for London's orphaned and crippled flower girls, getting them off the streets. For Tilly, the appointment is a fresh start, a chance to leave her troubled past behind.

Soon after she arrives at the home, Tilly finds a notebook belonging to Flora Flynn. Hidden between the pages she finds dried flowers and a heartbreaking tale of loss and separation as Flora's entries reveal how she never stopped looking for her lost sister. 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.


GUEST POST

Introducing…. New York Times Bestselling Author Hazel Gaynor

I sometimes describe myself as one part writer, two parts mum and I think this is a pretty accurate description! Life as a writer with two young boys is certainly busy, and far from the idyllic image people might have of a place of calm and serenity to channel my writing muse! Writing happens when the kids are at school and in snatched moments between playdates and rugby training and cooking the dinner. It’s busy, messy and, at times, chaotic – but it’s also wonderful and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

I started writing in 2009, following redundancy when I was in my late 30’s. From my fledgling experience as a parenting blogger, to freelancing for the local press and eventually starting the novel I’d been talking about for years, my route to publication has been far from straightforward. But all the ups and downs, the pain of rejections, the nerves as the book eventually goes out into the world have all been so worth it. To finally see my books in the hands of readers is very special indeed. It just goes to show that you should never give up, and that it is never too late to start.

It was sometime in 2010 when I first started to scribble notes and ideas for a novel based around the lives of London’s flower sellers at the turn of the century. That novel would eventually become A MEMORY OF VIOLETS. I’d loved Pygmalion and My Fair Lady since playing the role of Eliza Doolittle in the school musical (of which there is, unfortunately, video evidence!) I wanted to understand more about the real Elizas – the young women who sold flowers and watercress on the streets of Victorian and Edwardian-era London.

During my research, I was surprised to learn that many of the youngest flower sellers were orphaned, blind or physically disabled in some way. I also discovered the work of Victorian philanthropist, John Groom, who gave many of these young girls and women a home at his ‘crippleage’ where he taught them how to make artificial flowers and took them off the streets. Their work became widely known in London, and eventually led to their involvement in the very first Queen Alexandra Rose Day in June 1912. But it was when I read Henry Mayhew’s, London Labour & The London Poor, in which he records detailed interviews with London’s street sellers from the late 1800s, that I came across an account of two orphaned watercress sellers. I knew immediately that I had found my story and that I wanted to combine the idea of two orphaned sisters with the work of John Groom and his Flower Homes.

Since my debut novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, was published in April 2014, I’ve been blown away by the reaction of readers. I love receiving messages through my website and am always very touched when readers take the time to contact me and share their response to my characters. To have watched the novel go from being self-published, to a fully-fledged book published across the USA and to then hit the New York Times bestsellers on three occasions has been simply amazing, and I’m so very grateful to all the readers who made this happen.

I am now very excited to be publishing my second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and can’t wait to see what this next chapter of my writing life will bring.



PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound 



MY REVIEW

Every once in a while, there comes a book that is meant to soften your heart and embed itself into your memories for the rest of your life.  And MEMORY OF VIOLETS does so much more than that...

The story is told through a few different point of views, but primarily, it starts with Tilly Harper. Tilly leaves her beautiful home in the mountains to go work as a housemother in Mr. Shaw's Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls; a home for orphaned girls who have a physical disability. Tilly is to help care for these girls; girls who are not only cared for and given the opportunity to strive into young ladies, but who are also trained to learn how to live with their disabilities by working in the organizations silk flower factory, and then eventually mature enough to go on with their lives as normal as possible.
Upon Tilly's arrival, she comes across a small box containing a few odd momentos and a journal that belonged to one of the girls, Flora aka Florrie, that had stayed in the room she is now occupying. Tilly instantly feels a connection to the flower girl who lost her blind sister in London's streets. Tilly left home to find a way to forget the things that she had done and not feel so guilty anymore. But with Florrie's journal, she finds a way to do the things she must do in order to come to terms with her mistakes and her family secrets.
Florrie painstakingly writes her journal entries to her long lost sister, Rosie. Rosie is the only good that Florrie had in her life. She promised her little sister that she would always take care of her. Until that tragic day where she let go of her hand and Rosie was lost in the crowd of flower sellers and their buyers. Florrie promised that she would look for Rosie until she found her. Every single page of Florrie's journal was filled with such heartfelt longing and loneliness.

"For little sister... I will never stop looking for you."

Tilly is moved by Florrie's love and unanswered prayers. She is determined to find out what happened to Rosie and hopes to give Florrie the peace that she deserves. Little does Tilly know that there will be more ghosts to meet, help and say goodbye to.

The most definitive historical fiction I have ever read. The author's strong and accurate details to this period of time was captivating - I found myself living right alongside these characters. I felt the weather and smelled the stench of the London streets; I felt their moments of pain, love, sadness and more. I was able to close my eyes and not only picture the flowers, but smell them too. Even when I had to put the book aside to tend to my real life moments, I couldn't help but wonder about Florrie and what Tilly was going to do next in order to find Rosie, and what she was going to in regards to her own dilemmas - they became so real to me. And every once in a while, I swear, I could smell roses and sometimes, violets... their story kept calling me back. I needed to know what had happened to Florrie and Rosie, and what was going to become of Tilly, her suitor. her own sister, and others as well. 

An unforgettable story that I will be shelving next to my other heartfelt favorites such as The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans and Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.


*An eARC was provided to me from the publisher for the blog tour and an honest review. All thoughts are my own.



GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(Bumbles and Fairy-Tales will not be held responsible for any lost, damaged, unclaimed, etc. prizes.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Hazel Gaynor


Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer living in Ireland. 

Her debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME (William Morrow/HarperCollins) was a USA Today and New York Times bestseller. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS will be published in February 2015.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was recently named as one of U.S. Library Journal's Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. 

Hazel also writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie. She also writes feature articles for the site and has interviewed authors such as Philippa Gregory, John Boyne, and Sebastian Faulks.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel has lived in Ireland for the past twelve years with her husband and two young children. 


3 comments:

  1. I feel left out b/c I've never had or been a secret admirer. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. nope I have never had or been a a secret admirer

    tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hiii, new subscriber! <3

    This book sounds awesome, I like the premise of it and I'll definitely add it to my WL, thank you! :D

    Ps. If you'd like, come visit my blog and say hi <3

    Frannie @ In Clouds of Pages
    http://frannieinthepages.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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