THE FLOUR­ISH­ING OF FLORALIE LAU­REL

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Fi­adhnait Moser, Yel­low Jacket (MAY) Hard­cover $16.99 (336pp), 978-1-4998-0668-7

Fi­adhnait Moser’s com­ing-of-age novel, The Flour­ish­ing of Floralie Lau­rel, fol­lows its hero­ine as she rounds the first cor­ner of ado­les­cence and finds very adult prob­lems wait­ing. As Floralie ques­tions who her fam­ily mem­bers are—as care­tak­ers and as peo­ple—she’s con­fronted with the com­plex and of­ten flawed na­ture of those whom she loves and craves love from in re­turn.

It’s 1927, and Floralie is too old to keep roam­ing the streets of Whit­terly End. Kicked out of her board­ing school, she’s back with her older brother, but not for long.

Grand­mother wants to make Floralie into the per­fect wife, but Floralie knows she’s a painter. Des­per­ate to out­ma­neu­ver Grand­mother, Floralie en­lists a street urchin and a sym­pa­thetic li­brar­ian to help her de­code her mother’s se­crets. In search of a rare flo­ri­og­ra­phy, they set out for Floralie’s child­hood home in Giverny, France, where Floralie is de­ter­mined to dis­cover what hap­pened to her mother, and also to re­turn to a time when her imag­i­na­tion wasn’t “the un­do­ing of her own heart.”

In­no­cence is edged with dark­ness as Floralie’s imag­i­na­tion helps her es­cape very real things: her fa­ther’s death, her mother’s un­ex­plained ab­sence, and sud­den poverty, to name a few. Fam­ily se­crets have fes­tered into a si­lence, and she takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for un­der­stand­ing fam­ily rifts. Ul­ti­mately, Floralie deals with the com­plex an­guish of lov­ing a men­tally ill par­ent, and the ways they can frac­ture a fam­ily and feed its dys­func­tion.

There’s fresh­ness to this novel, and also room to grow. Floralie is a vis­ual thinker who un­der­stands the world in pic­tures. Heavy im­agery cre­ates a kind of lin­guis­tic im­pres­sion­ism; clar­ity is some­times sac­ri­ficed. While self-ex­pres­sion is en­cour­aged, and rightly so, it co­ex­ists with stereotypes about artis­tic tem­per­a­ments and men­tal in­sta­bil­ity.

Fan­tas­ti­cal and po­etic, The Flour­ish­ing of Floralie Lau­rel uses evoca­tive im­agery to ex­pli­cate Floralie’s ex­pe­ri­ence. On the cusp of ado­les­cence, Floralie peers into adult­hood’s penum­bra and dis­cov­ers the seeds from which her in­ner strength grows.

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