Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: Like A Flower in Bloom

Like a Flower in Bloom. Siri Mitchell. 2015. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I expected to enjoy Like A Flower in Bloom. After all, I've enjoyed several of Siri Mitchell's romance novels in the past. (I've read Love Comes Calling, A Heart Most Worthy, She Walks in Beauty, Love's Pursuit, and A Constant Heart.) But as much as I've enjoyed her work, I didn't expect to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her newest book Like A Flower in Bloom.

Charlotte Withersby is a botanist, a scientist. She not only loves collecting flowers and plants and the like, but she loves classifying, writing, researching, and illustrating. She comes by it naturally, in a way. There are botanists on both sides of her family for at least a generation or two. Her father is recognized in the field. What few now is that Charlotte herself does much of the work: she writes, she illustrates, and it is published under her father's name. She's tried submitting articles under her own name, but, with no luck. Submitting the same articles under her father's name, no problem whatsoever with getting published. Charlotte's interest is not a hobby, it's so much more than that. It's her life work, she feels. If only she could have a career as a botanist. If only she could gain the respect and recognition.

Her uncle and her father team up to "ruin" Charlotte's life early in the novel. The time has come, they say, for her to stop busying herself with flower collections and get down to the business of finding a husband and settling down. Her uncle is willing to "launch" her into society, and to pay for her to have a new wardrobe. But Charlotte, for one, does not want to be launched. She is quite content, thank you very much, to stay put. Why can't she continue on helping her father? Why can't she keep on paying her father's bills, writing her father's books, writing her father's correspondence, etc.? Her struggle continues over the next few days when "her father's correspondent" Mr. Edward Trimble arrives. This is where I squirmed a little bit when reading. For her father has absolutely NO tact and tells the stranger of his intent to marry off his daughter. He speaks of sending her off husband-catching. Mr. Withersby sees Mr. Trimble's arrival just then as being a perfect solution. He urges Mr. Trimble to become his assistant--starting immediately--so that his daughter can go out and about and catch herself a husband! Charlotte is embarrassed and frustrated. Her father may not know Mr. Trimble well, but, she does. For she's been corresponding with him for years. It seems Charlotte is to have no say in the matter, she'll be "launched" willing or not into a strange, confusing world of proper society.

Charlotte is lucky. For she meets a young lady who becomes her best, best friend. Together they may make it through this difficult time. Both women are honest with each other. Together they get in and out of trouble. The book is fun and amusing and just charming.

What I loved most about Like A Flower in Bloom is the characterization. All of the characters--not just the 'main' characters, but the 'minor' ones as well are well fleshed out. Readers get a chance to really know three eligible bachelors.

Even if you don't "like" Christian fiction, I think you should give Like A Flower in Bloom a try if you love classics, and/or if you love Victorian literature.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Carissa Horton said...

It is such an incredible book! I suspect it will be a favorite of 2015!

It's interesting how even her father, a character I do like, thinks that someone other than Charlotte needs to decide her future. She does so much for him, is so highly capable as a botanist, even more than her father, but she is still treated as less.

If anything, this book reminds me of how far women's rights have come in the last 160 years. Thank goodness!!

Christina Banks said...

I thought Charlotte was one of the best characters Siri Mitchell has ever created. She walked right off the page and into my heart with her quirky eccentricity and her ability to stay true to who she was despite the pressures others put on her.