Smart and Sassy in All the Right Ways! A Review of Like a Flower in Bloom

A picture of Siri Mitchell's latest work, A Flower in Bloom

“I suppose I do enjoy it, Mr. Trimble. Upon reflection, I have just discovered that most of  the time, I only listen.” 


“That, my dear Miss Withersby, is a very great shame, for I have found that most of the time, quiet people have more to offer.” ~ Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell 

Author: Siri Mitchell
Published: 2015 by Bethany House Publishers

About the Book:
"He Stole the Work She Loved.
Will She Let Him Steal Her Heart as Well?
It's all her uncle's fault. For years Charlotte Withersby has been free to pursue her love of plants and flowers by assisting her botanist father. But now that she's reached the old age of twenty-two, an intrusive uncle has convinced her father that Charlotte's future--the only proper future for a woman--is to be a wife and mother, not a scholar.

Her father is so dependent on her assistance that Charlotte believes he'll soon change his mind...and then Edward Trimble shows up. A long-time botany correspondent in the South Pacific, Trimble arrives ready to step in as assistant so that Charlotte can step out into proper society--a world that baffles her with its unwritten rules, inexplicable expectations, and confounding fashion.

Things aren't perfectly smooth between Trimble and her father, so Charlotte hatches a last gasp plan. She'll pretend such an interest in marriage that the thought of losing her will make her father welcome her back. Only things go quickly awry, and she realizes that the one man who recognizes her intelligence is also the person she's most angry with: Edward Trimble, her supposed rival. Suddenly juggling more suitors than she knows what to do with, Charlotte is caught in a trap of her own making. Will she have no choice but to leave her beloved flowers behind?"
 
The Artist Librarian's Review:
Some of my favorite historical fiction are books that have “unique” plots, so I thought I’d enjoy Like a Flower in Bloom.  Having taken an awesome horticulture class in undergrad (yeah, art majors could take classes like that for our science & lab requirement *wink*), the summary piqued my interest.  I absolutely loved this book –I can’t believe I haven’t read more of Siri Mitchell’s work!  But even if you aren’t interested in botany, Charlotte is a feisty heroine and her quick witted retorts and banter with her rival will have you smiling (and/or chortling) throughout the novel!

The dialogue is snappy and sassy in all the right ways!  I called this book my “Best Wittiest-Banter-Ever In a Novel” in my 2014 Best Reads for a reason!  It’s so “quoteable” … I don’t know if it’s because I had an e-book ARC, but I highlighted so much!  The following exchange below is one of my favorites.  It’s almost subversively unexpected for CBA but nevertheless tastefully clever so I still found it funny.  (If there are any fellow “Gaters” out there, it reminded me a bit of Capt. Samantha Carter’s memorable discourse in her Stargate SG-1 debut):
“It was just a joke, I assure you.”
“Yes. Exactly. That’s exactly how I feel. As if all that I’ve done and all that I’ve accomplished are to be set aside for some more suitable assistant simply because I’ve got pistils!”
“Pistils …?”
“As if they’re somehow considered less worthy than stamens!”
“Stamens …?”
“Can you see how this is quite vexing?”
“I can see that you’re highly incensed.”
“Extremely.”
He stood once more and then bowed. “Extremely incensed. I think, it more accurate, perhaps, to say that it is you whom I am ultimately assisting.”

If he hadn’t usurped my position then I might have appreciated the sentiment. “Thank you, Mr. Trimble.”

Much of the humor in this story stems from the protagonist’s obliviousness to societal rules. While Charlotte is an intelligent young woman –her knowledge of plants and botany rivals or surpasses those around her– the death of her mother and her subsequent work with her father has left her a bit out of touch with society’s expectations.  Taking on many responsibilities after mother’s death, she’s also a bit overprotective of her father (which makes for good character growth when she realizes this).  There was only one moment (well, two, actually), that was a bit of a stretch that she’d be that obtuse to social cues, but I felt that it was still believable!  

Reminding me partly of Mr. Knightly (of Emma), with a bit of Professor Higgins (of My Fair Lady), and all Mr. Trimble, Edward is the perfect foil to Charlotte.  His command of societal manners, customs, and behaviors hint to something more than just a simple New Zealand sheep farmer.  He’s also quite witty and his intelligence matches hers.  Easily one of the best heroes I’ve read in a recent historical romance.  Edward and Charlotte’s unintentional years long correspondence gave them a history or friendship, that when becoming “rivals” in real life once in England, made for a delicious sort of tension.  The artist in me also loved the details of botany illustration and the difference between that and ... other art (oh my, the painting lesson).  In fact, chapter 21 has my favorite parts (sorry, no spoilers!), with Mitchell using drawing and sketching to frame two touching, memorable scenes. 

The whole book reads like a lighthearted romantic (historical) comedy –I kept thinking how amazing it would be to see it as a movie (must be that dialogue)!  But at the same time, it poignantly touches on the roles of women, societal expectations, individual worth in Christ, and the importance of allowing God to work in your life.  A wonderfully researched novel 
even the author’s note is fascinating to readI wholeheartedly recommend!

About the Author: 
"Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area." Learn more at her website
[Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.com]
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Smart and Sassy in All the Right Ways! A Review of Like a Flower in Bloom Smart and Sassy in All the Right Ways!  A Review of Like a Flower in Bloom Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 1/18/2015 06:04:00 PM Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this -- it was so fun to write! Thanks for taking the time to post a review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the comment! I'm hoping to get to more of your books soon --"She Walks In Beauty" has been sitting on my "to read" shelf for much too long! =)

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