Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

For those of you to whom it applies, Happy Independence Day!

Flowers from the Storm coverI should be better about posting about books than I am.  Usually I finish one and pick up the next and life happens and pretty soon I feel like I don’t remember it enough to give it a real review.  I think I’m getting to the age where I actually need to take notes on anything over 250 pages.

I read Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm.  Man, people have loved this book.  In the beginning, I thought it was incredible.  It was one of those books that makes me feel like I should never pick up a pen again.  The duke, Jervaulx, meets the spinster Quaker, Maddy, early on.  Nothing momentous, no sparks flying, but you can sense that there could be, maybe.  Not overdone; good job.  Then Jervaulx seems to have what I guess is a stroke that incapacitates him to an extent and lands him in an asylum.  And that’s where the strength of the book is, in Kinsales ability to render for us what life is like inside Jervaulx’s damaged mind.  It’s incredible, really.  Fortunately for Jervaulx, circumstance causes Maddy to visit the asylum.  And you can see where this is going.  This whole part is very well done and it’s not a simple matter of she sees he’s not crazy and gets him out.  His inability to speak and understand, his constant frustration with his circumstances and poor treatment make him prone to violent outbursts, and he vascillates between loving and hating her.  And she has this religious thing going on which causes her to put up with his stuff. 

The rest of the 500+ page story gets a little wearying for me.  Just because I have this thing about overkill when it comes to external conflict.  Her religion, his position, forced marriage, deception, his family after his money, the constant threat of return to the asylum, differences of position, lifestyle, outlook…  It started to seem like she threw every possible obstacle she could think of at them.  I swear if one more thing had come up, I would have screamed.  The first part was sooo good.  So unique and skillfully presented.  Then it became so much like every other Regency and surrounding time period book, down to there had to be a ball– ever wonder how Wellington ever got anything done in his life with all the novelized balls he’s had to attend?

It’s not that it dragged.  I read it right through.  It’s a solid book, and the part that relates to Jervaulx’s affliction pushes it to great.  It’s just that, for me, all the stuff that kept happening took away from the love story and made me weary.  But I’m very glad I read it, and still recommend it.

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