Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin
Publisher: Europa Editions
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne, France. Traversing the grounds by unicycle, tending to her many gardens—and being present for the intimate, often humorous confidences of visitors—Violette’s life follows the predictable rhythms of mourning. But then Violette’s routine is disrupted by the arrival of Julien Sole, the local police chief.

Julien has come to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear that Julien’s inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette’s own complicated past.

What would it be like to be a young caretaker of a cemetery? What would you learn and experience from this? Violette often ponders the lives of the dead as she looks at their birth and death dates. She has her own issues to deal with as well. She wants to be happy. She is deserted by her husband and loves her daughter; then tragedy hits.

The years roll on as Violette describes her life, her loves, family, friends, and the search for answers. Her narration and insights are written as if a friend were speaking in an elegant way, but she makes many lists throughout the story. Her thoughts and observations offer readers a lot to think about and touch upon many emotions.

The book is layered and complex and crosses time and characters’ perspectives. It starts with Violette appreciating the good she could find in things around her, but the book takes a turn into more serious territory.

It is an intelligent story with cleverness abounding. Turns of action and discoveries will take readers by surprise. The mood is enveloping, and one will be treated to French culture along the way. Why not check out this character-driven tale of a woman with unusual life circumstances and be entertained while being given plenty to think about?