Like a Flower in Bloom

Like a Flower in BloomLike a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Bethany House on January 16, 2015
Pages: 363

 

Charlotte Withersby’s dearest wish is to study her beloved blooms as a botanist. She wants to be left alone by her uncle, society and most certainly by her father’s new assistant, an interloper named Mr. Trimble. In a time when women’s views and expertise in botany are not given credence, Charlotte must rely upon the name of her father, a well-known botanist, to publish her own work. When her uncle and father insist that she take on society to snare a husband, Charlotte is sure Mr. Trimble’s lackluster help will soon bring her back to her position as her father’s assistant and put all of the marriage nonsense to rest. What Charlotte doesn’t account for is finding actual suitors, nor is she prepared for the questions that being thrust into society will bring – is her merit in her work or does it lie within herself?

The botany details are fascinating and add a lot of depth to Charlotte’s character development and intellectual tendencies.

Siri always chooses to write about historical elements that are usually not anything that I’ve read about in another novel. She is a brave author in the sense that she chooses to tackle story elements and character traits that are not widely used. In this case, it was the science of botany. The botany details are fascinating and add a lot of depth to Charlotte’s character development and intellectual tendencies. Charlotte’s quirks are so unique to her character. Siri’s characters and settings are never the norm, which is why her books continue to be a delight to read.

This novel is more on the humorous side, and nowhere is that more evident than in the main character, Charlotte. She is quirky, and if I may, sometimes a bit odd. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take her, but as I read on, she grew on me. There is a possibility that she may not be for everyone; there were times that I was exasperated with her, but at the same time, she is extremely refreshing. She is everything that society is not – she is blunt, unpretentious and lacks the knowledge of all of the social niceties that are expected of her. In her heart of hearts, she wants to take care of her father and wants to be valued for her intellectual abilities, and moreover, wants herself to be enough, no more, no less.

There were also some compelling side characters present in this story. I loved her new-found companion, Miss Templeton – the scenes with her were full of humor, and I loved how she took Charlotte under her wing and had a feeling that she found Charlotte refreshing as well. Their friendship and back-and-forth banter was entertaining to read. Her uncle, her self-named chaperone during all of her social outings is rather enigmatic at first, but as the story progresses, his character and background are revealed, and I was pleasantly surprised by the depth in the interactions between him and Charlotte.

Mr. Trimble may not be the conventional hero, but I felt that he fit well within the story, and his character is very endearing.

Mr. Trimble may not be the conventional hero, but I felt that he fit well within the story, and his character is very endearing. Despite being declared the enemy by Miss Templeton, it’s soon very clear that he isn’t the usurper that he appears to be and that he has his own reasons for becoming an assistant to a reclusive botanist. I wanted more interaction between him and Charlotte, and while the enemies turned lovers storyline sometimes wears on me, it works well in this story, and provides some humorous and also heartfelt exchanges between him and Charlotte.

With a quirky main character, a sweet romance and a fascinating look at the world of botany, Like a Flower in Bloom is a favorite read of the year so far.

Whenever I pick a Siri Mitchell novel I know that I am in for something unique and fascinating. She always takes on topics that stand out, this story lives up to the standard I’ve come to expect in Siri’s novels. Although I’ve enjoyed all of her novels, this one definitely stands out as one I’ve enjoyed most. With a quirky main character, a sweet romance and a fascinating look at the world of botany, Like a Flower in Bloom is a favorite read of the year so far.

–Beth


Charlotte Withersby is a sunflower amidst the weeds in Siri Mitchell’s Victorian romance Like a Flower in Bloom. Set in a time when women had few roles aside from wife and mother, Charlotte remains behind closed doors for years as her father’s botany assistant. The situation suits her well because Charlotte also loves botany, and hiding behind her father’s name allows her to complete her own work on plant life. When Charlotte’s stern but well-intentioned uncle pushes Charlotte into society for the purpose of his niece’s future role as wife, Mitchell’s heroine realizes just how little she knows of English life outside of her home. A fellow botany correspondent of the Withersbys’ who threatens Charlotte’s assistant position with her father turns into her own society assistant instead; Charlotte, however, is not about to lose her botany to Edward Trimble…no matter how handsome or kind he might be. Over the course of her time in polite society, Charlotte faces the decision of whether her work or heart remain her calling in life—or if there is a way for her to have both.

Siri Mitchell excels at her craft because she consistently chooses to write about different time periods and genres.

Siri Mitchell excels at her craft because she consistently chooses to write about different time periods and genres. It simply is not possible to pinpoint exactly what sort of story she will next present to her readers, which is exactly why Like a Flower in Bloom enamored so many of us leading up to and while reading the novel. Mitchell’s latest story takes a subject unusually sought after and makes it fun, flirty, and (pun intended) flowery. Novels set during the Civil War or Gilded Age are common across ABA and CBA markets; and while Victorian settings are common in both markets, the subject of botany is rarely touched. Readers can congratulate Mitchell for turning what could have been a dry subject into one of sensuality through vivid descriptions and punchy characters.

The aspects of Like a Flower in Bloom that characterize the novel as special are strong, but unfortunately Mitchell’s latest novels also lacks in literary elements in which other CBA novels stand tall and bright. Mitchell’s voice is unique—readers almost definitely can identify any of her novels—but in Like a Flower in Bloom there is too much telling. Authors are taught to make writing their own…but they are also taught to bring description action to their prose. Like a Flower in Bloom took too much of Mitchell’s desire to create her own voice and instead of painting a picture of Victorian England didactically talked down to readers as if Mitchell’s audience were of elementary age. This telling, in addition, also considerably slowed down the pace of Like a Flower in Bloom. Add in a feisty but, in personal opinion, bratty female heroine and this novel felt at times like a chore to read.

For worthy efforts to create a unique, sweet, and fun story, Like a Flower in Bloom earns moderate praise.

For worthy efforts to create a unique, sweet, and fun story, Like a Flower in Bloom earns moderate praise. This novel is recommended for CBA market readers with lots of patience who enjoy inspirational Victorian and Regency-era books.

–Marisa

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