Friday, May 31, 2013

Flora; Gail Godwin

Title: Flora
Author: Gail Godwin
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher:
Edition: eGalley

Source: NetGalley
Setting: Tennessee
Date Completed: May - 2013
Rating: 5/5

Recommend: yes
 

In the summer of 1945, the end of WWII, 10-year old Helen Anstruther is in for yet another change in her young life.  Her mother died when she was only 3, and Nonie who cared for her since her mother's death, has recently passed away as well.  Her father is still in the picture, the principal of a high school in North Carolina. He drinks too much and isn't someone you could call a nurturer. This summer he will be away to work on a secret project for the government. In his absence, he has hired "Flora", a 22-year old cousin from Alabama to come to care for Helen.

Intro ----"There are things we can't undo, but perhaps there is a kind of constructive remorse that could transform regrettable acts into something of service to life.
That summer Flora and I were together every day and night for three weeks in June, all of July, and the first six days of August.  I was ten, going on eleven, and she was twenty-two.  I thought I knew her intimately, I thought I knew everything there was to know about her, but she has since become a profound study for me, more intensely so in recent years.  Styles have come and gone in storytelling, psychologizing, theologizing, but Flora keeps providing me with something as enigmatic as it is basic to life, as timeless as it is fresh." 

Helen is not thrilled, a pretentious, know-it-all child who finds fault with just about everything Helen will say and do. Her sense of superiority, vivid imagination, and her self-reliance were, were things about her that I actually came to love. She's a sneaky child who tries to undermine Flora every chance she gets, yet there is something about Helen, maybe her spunk, that made me love her all the same.

In addition to Flora there is Finn, a young Veteran who delivers groceries to Flora and Helen who are confined to a ram shackled mountain lodge by Helen's father, a polio survivor, because of another polio outbreak. Finn provides for some interest competition for his attention.

The story is narrated by Helen in the present as a 70-year old, as she looks back on that summer with Flora came to stay after finishing her education in preparation for a teaching career. Old letters that Flora had exchanged over the years with Helen's Nonie serve to fill in the blanks into the family's past. So it is over the course of one summer that Helen learns the many life lessons that can't always be taught in school. In addition, she realizes Flora wasn't all like the older cousin she thought she was as a child.

Flora, is a terrific story about family, loss and how childhood experiences  can impact us for life. I loved this one! This just might make my Top 10 list for 2013. Read it!

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for your review. It sounds like a must read!

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  2. Great review. I'm definitely adding this one to the list!

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  3. Excellent review Diane, thank you. Have a great weekend!

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  4. GG's Evenings at Five is one of the very best books I've read. I keep meaning to read more of her work.

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  5. Thanks for this review. I had been hesitating on this book but your excellent review has me hooked. On my list.

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  6. Great review and a wower to boot!

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  7. I like the setting and if it makes your top ten list, I am interested!

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  8. Oh, I want to read Flora. Your review was great. I need a book to read as soon as I finish Orphan Train. Thanks!

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  9. Oh, I want to read Flora. Your review was great. I need a book to read as soon as I finish Orphan Train. Thanks!

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  10. I'd love to read this! Terrific review, Diane!

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  11. A copy of this landed through my letter box yesterday. I wasn't that inspired by the cover, but your review has grabbed my attention! I'll be sure to try it at some point.

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  12. When I was younger, Gail Godwin was one of my favorite authors. I'm going to try this one.

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  13. It's time for me to return to Gail Godwin... it's been years.

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  14. This does sound wonderful - very enticing review Diane.

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  15. I find that I like books where older people reminisce about the past with more understanding. And if this one is going on your top list, I must have it! Thanks for the review!

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  16. I am so glad you enjoyed this one, Diane! Several of the First Chapter posts today feature this book and have me just about drooling over it again. I do look forward to reading it at some point.

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  17. Sounds awesome! I just pinned it to my 2013 board!

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  18. Love stories when older folk look back at their lives. I like the awareness that shines through.

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  19. A potential Top Ten for 2013? I'll have to check it out! I've only read one book by Godwin (Evenings at Five).

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