Book review: The Flower Seller by Linda Finlay
For the 20 years of her young life, Isabella Carrington has known only wealth, fine clothes and comfort.
But the cosy world of her luxury London home falls apart when her beloved father is declared bankrupt and she is hastily packed off to unknown relatives hundreds of miles away in Devon.
To survive, Isabella must try to forget her privileged upbringing and learn to adapt to a tough, rural way of life that she never knew existed.
Linda Finlay returns with a compelling and appealing new saga, set against the stunning Devon backdrop which she knows and loves so well, and featuring the fascinating workings of a violet farm in the late 19th century.
Author of seven novels, Finlay bases each of her books on a traditional West Country craft and from lace-making to growing violets, she learns to do the crafts herself to bring authenticity and local colour to her captivating stories.
In 1892 and on the cusp of her 21st birthday, Isabella Carrington could not be happier. Her mother might have died when she was just a baby but she has always felt loved and cherished by her father.
But now his business is in ruins and to save Isabella from destitution and the fall-out from his bankruptcy, he sends her to stay with her late mother’s family, people she has never met, far away on a violet farm near Dawlish in Devon. Isabella feels like a fish out of water at the family’s tiny cottage but is even more horrified to learn that her uncle, Frederick Northcott, expects her to work for her keep, packing up the flowers and selling them in the nearby market.
At first, Isabella finds it hard to adapt to her new life with a houseful of cousins she has never met before and an uncle who seems stern, forbidding and intolerant of her London ways and wealth.However she soon discovers that life on the violet farm may not be so bad with this hard-working and caring family, and when she meets handsome local farmer Felix Furneaux, it seems that Devon may hold more happiness than she could ever have imagined…
Finlay’s enchanting and heartwarming family saga is packed with drama, betrayal, secrets and revelations as we are swept away to the rural charms and realities of an old-fashioned Devonshire violet farm.
Isabella’s emotional journey from a smart London townhouse to the wild and wonderful coast of Devon, and the competitive world of flower growing, is beautifully portrayed.
On the way, she encounters loss and tragedy, hope and despair, friendship, the joys of kinship and the strength of a new-found love.
A sweet-scented Devon treat from a much-loved storyteller.
(HQ, paperback, £7.99)