Recently I was provided a newly-released book free of charge by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my book review. The book I was delighted to read was the new fiction/historical romance title by Siri Mitchell – Like a Flower in Bloom.
Even today, women struggle with the life they want to have and that which is expected of them by others, either in society or in the eyes of family. While most of us in the “free world” have the luxury of pursuing a career in whatever field we excel, there are still a great many women who don’t get a choice, or voice, in the matter. In Like a Flower in Bloom, Siri Mitchell brings us the plight of one such young lady from the Victorian era who battles for her heart’s desire over societal expectation.
The setting is Cheshire, England in 1852. The story is told by none other than the main character herself - Charlotte Withersby. Charlotte is a 22-year old young lady who lives with her botanist father, assisting him in his botany research and writing. This is a job for which Charlotte is quite well-suited, and one she is happily resigned to for the remainder of her life.
Charlotte’s dream is to be a published botanist under her own name, something that was unheard of in that time, especially in the scientific field. Her uncle convinces her father that she is getting old, and must be more about finding a husband, and less about writing. The problem of who will help her father in his research and writing is quickly solved by the arrival of Mr. Trimble, a correspondent from the South Pacific who’s been aiding their research efforts for many years.
While becoming more active in the social scene she neither desires nor embraces, Charlotte befriends Miss Templeton, a young socialite who is eager to teach Charlotte proper etiquette. Miss Templeton agrees to help Charlotte craft a clever plan to give the appearance of seeking a suitor, while making it obvious there is nobody suited for the position.
“No one worth your time or trouble. Of course, I might
answer differently if you actually wished to marry. In that case you
could even consider old Mr. Carew, but the goal is to provoke a man
into paying you attention enough to raise alarm, but not enough to
propose. You’ve issued quite a challenge, Miss Withersby, but I’ve
both talent and time, and if you leave it to my capable hands, you’ll
soon be back to your life’s work.”
Charlotte hopes that Mr. Trimble will serve as a horrible assistant to her father. She also hopes that the men she and Miss Templeton choose to feign an interest in for betrothal will be denied by her father. If the plan should work, Charlotte would return to her father’s side as his assistant and the life she desires.
Charlotte is a smart, feisty, rather opinionated voice of stubborn will. She can’t understand why people talk in circles instead of just saying what they mean, and why she should be forced to be someone she’s not, or pursue a life she doesn’t want. Several “suitors” are found, and Charlotte finds herself in quite the predicament as the book progresses. Will she end up in dismay, or will there be a man who changes her mind about marriage? You have to read this book to see what happens. You won’t be disappointed.
Like a Flower in Bloom is an insightful, yet thought-provoking read with a touch of delightful humor. Mitchell brings to us characters you can relate to, in lives that are believable, and struggles that not only occurred in the late 1800s, but also appear in our lives today. From the subtle details to the easy-flowing story line, I’m sure you’ll find this as much of a delight to read as I did.
Lisa L. Floyd