Saturday, February 7, 2015

Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

This Christian Historical Romance starts out in 1852 Cheshire, England. Love the cover, don't you? Our main character Charlotte is a botanist, from a long family of botanists, but is not accepted as an author or illustrator in her own right because she is female. So she assists her father (who is published) and submits her work under his name.

They are joined by Edward, a sheep farmer, who is quickly put to work as her father's assistant so that Charlotte can pursue a husband - something he and her Uncle have decided she must do. The thing is, even though he's excellent at the job, Edward is not quite what he seems.

It's not easy for Charlotte to go out in society, as she's never learned social graces. Thankfully she is befriended by another girl who helps her through.  In the process, she learns some valuable lessons and in turn touches the hearts of those she becomes close to - like a flower in bloom.

I struggled with reading this, as the eclectic nature of Charlotte and her father became somewhat frustrating. But by the same token I think this would be an excellent movie because their eccentric habits would be easier to watch and not have to be explained. And with the subject of botany, there is an opening for beautiful photography. There was subtle humor throughout the book that would be much more effective acted out.

In some ways I resonated deeply with the main character in this book. When I was younger I very much wanted to be a botanist. From the age of 10 I got books out of the library on biology and botany every summer and poured over them, nearly memorizing them. I was given a microscope for Christmas when I was 11. When I finally got to biology class in 10th grade, I was ecstatic. My first test for that class I got a 95 - for which I was singled out by the teacher and accused of cheating as everyone else had failed it. My deepest hurt. As time went on, he continually singled me out and ridiculed me in front of the class, and as a result I gave up on my greatest love as far as school went. I did continue to take books out from the library on weeds and wildflowers and had a sketchbook. After reading this book I think perhaps one of the reasons my teacher treated me so is that I was female, and a great love of the subject was not typical of girls, so he doubted that I could have done so well without cheating. But he never bothered to talk to me. It did change the direction of my life, left deep scars and I gradually wandered away from it down other paths. God had other plans for me. So I'm glad that Charlotte was able to continue to be a botanist and stay true to herself.

In reading the Author's notes at the end I also felt a deep connection with her. I almost enjoyed them more than the book. By her description, I too am an introvert.  I can be an extrovert for awhile, and am too self  aware. I prefer deep conversations with those I get close to as opposed to small talk. I have always felt that if I just try hard enough I'll be able to be like everyone else and often question/doubt my worth. I'm glad that Siri Mitchell has decided to write and offer her stories as she has a talent to be envied. In her I feel a kindred spirit and feel better that she shared that part of herself. It's nice to know someone of her recognition and success shares something with me. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Bethany House Publishers - Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.

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