Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

Book Cover and Synopsis:
For years Charlotte Withersby has worked as an assistant to her father, an eminent English botanist. As she approaches the old age of twenty-four, her father pushes her out into society, swayed by an uncle who believes God's only two roles for women are marriage and motherhood. When one of the Withersbys' colonial correspondents, Edward Trimble, returns to England, he's drafted as the new assistant so Charlotte is free to marry. This suits Edward's plans quite well, since the last thing he wants to do is reunite with the family he is ashamed to call his own.

Though Edward proves himself vexingly capable on the job, Charlotte won't surrender the job without a fight, and schemes with her best friend to regain her position. Perhaps if a proposal seems imminent, Charlotte's father will see his error and ask her to return. Charlotte tries to make headway in her town's social life, but reveals herself to be unaware of all the intricacies of polite society. Though Edward pitches in, tutoring her in society's expectations, she just seems to make things worse. And the more she comes to know of her father's assistant, the more trouble she has imagining life without him. Caught in a trap of her own making and seeing the hopelessness of her prospects, will Charlotte get to keep her work or will she have to cede her heart?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
Though I really wanted to like this one, it unfortunately grated on my nerves quite a bit. Much of the story has a very repetitive feeling with Charlotte constantly trying to bring the same scheme to fruition. She doesn't often change her tactics, so she just takes the scheme further and further until she is in completely over her head. She's extremely (and a bit unbelievably) clueless about society and relationships, which makes her very unsuited to pull off her society-based scheme.

Botany was apparently a popular fad in this era as literally almost everyone had an interest--however small--in it. Some people, like the rector (pastor), seemed to have flower collections only because it was expected and fashionable, and whether or not they actually enjoyed the hobby seemed of little matter. Though this does shed some light on the things people do only because it's expected of them, honestly all the talk about flowers got old and seemed a bit unrealistic. It seemed as if no one had any other interests at all.

I have to admit that several times I considered giving up, but through sheer stubbornness (much like Charlotte, actually!) I finally finished the story. I just could never connect with Charlotte or the plot at all. She struck me as being sort of whiny, and her constant use of the word "specimen" in reference to flowers, though amusing at first, eventually grew quite stale. In my opinion Mr. Trimble was without a doubt the most interesting character in the whole book, and by far my favorite, yet Charlotte was always hating on him--even going so far as to sabotage some of his work. Right from the beginning it was fairly obvious how the story between these two would ultimately end, but I had a hard time getting on board with the outcome due to my feelings towards Charlotte.

Though I think the overall plot, as well as Charlotte's clueless personality, was probably intended to be charming/amusing, it just didn't hit the target for me. Honestly, I can't really recommend Like a Flower in Bloom, though judging by other reviews I am in the minority. That's ok though. I've really enjoyed many of the author's past books, so I will continue to follow her, though maybe with a bit more caution as to which books I pick up in the future.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Bethany House) for providing me with a review copy.

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