Monday, 4 July 2016

Emma's Review: The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Jessie Martin believes that when it comes to love there are three types of people: the skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls. Jessie is a pearl diver. She had thought her husband William was a pearl diver too. But when William leaves her for a much younger woman, it’s not just Jessie’s heart that is broken, her ability to trust is shattered too. All Jessie wanted was a love she could believe in. Was that so much to ask? Loyalty it seems has gone out of fashion. 

Refusing to retire from the battlefield of life, Jessie resolves to put her heartache behind her. She doesn’t want to be that woman who was too scared to love again. There has to be another pearl diver out there; all she has to do is find him. 

Urged on by her sassy best friend, Anne and her daughter Hannah, Jessie makes three New Year’s resolutions: get a divorce, get a promotion, get a life. Enthusiastically embracing her new start, Jessie sets about making all her resolutions come true. 

When fate brings handsome flower seller Owen Phillips into her life, will Jessie have the courage of her convictions? Can she take her heart in her hands and give it away again? Hope springs eternal they say but a bruised heart needs to time to heal. Will Owen have the patience to understand? Will Jessie be brave enough to take that leap of faith? 

By the time summer holds her firmly in it’s warm embrace, Jessie’s monochrome world of heartache has been transformed into one full of colour, romance and love. 

Jessie can hardly believe her luck. Can Owen really be the one? 

All things seem possible and even husband William’s attempts to bully Jessie into a less than fair divorce settlement don’t have the power to upset her as they once might have. Supported by Owen, Jessie stands her ground. Putting William’s deceit and betrayal firmly in the rear view mirror of her life, Jessie is full of hope for the future. Perhaps loyalty and true love haven’t gone out of fashion after all. 

When autumn’s burnished hues colour the world around her, Jessie looks forward to cosy nights by log fires with her handsome flower seller. But is Owen really the pearl diver Jessie had hoped for? Or is Jessie’s fragile trust about to be shattered all over again? 

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The Flower Seller is the d├ębut novel from Ellie Holmes and on first glance of the cover and reading the title I presumed this would be a nice  easy chicklit read similar in vein to that of The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin. Then I read the blurb and started to read the story and my initial presumptions couldn’t have been more different. This wasn't a light, easy read by any means instead it is serious and there are undertones of darkness making things appear not all as they seem. Once I realised this wasn't the read I had expected I put that fact to the back of my mind and didn't let this cloud my overall judgement of the book. The Flower Seller is a clever title and works well with the overall plot considering it is a flower seller which turns everything on it's head for our main character Jessie Martin. The premise for this book was good but for me it didn't really follow through and I wasn't as gripped as I should have been. There was too much detail in some places and not enough in others and truthfully the story went on too long and should have ended around the 80% mark. There are good aspects to this book but some more editing would have made for a better read.

Jessie Martin lives in the market town of Abbeyleigh and works as a solicitor and is involved with the buying and selling of houses and land. She is desperately lonely following the break up of her marriage to William and her 18 year old daughter Hannah urges her to put an ad in the newspaper looking for someone she can start a relationship with. I did think this was a bit drastic as you could sense that Jessie still had feelings for her ex William as she was so reluctant to give him the divorce he badly wanted. There were a few dates detailed in the story but they didn't work out and didn't really add much to the overall plot. Coupled with the fact that Jessie is floundering and not as happy as she once was is that she has to face William every day as they work in the same office which must be extremely difficult for any woman to have to see the man she has lost every day. 'She had lost so much in the last few months. William to the tart, Hannah to uni, her self confidence to self doubt. She couldn't bear the thought of losing her home as well'. William wants a divorce pronto and to sell the beautiful home that Jessie has held so dear for so long. Jessie wants to further her career and make partner in the firm but the powers that be insist she must put in more time and bring in more revenue. Alot of the book focused on Jessie working on achieving her goal of becoming partner and I hate saying this but I have to, honestly it was boring. There was far too much detail about properties and money and buying and selling that really didn't need to be there and made me lose interest. I questioned whether the book was about Jessie moving up her professional life or whether it was rather about coming to terms with her marriage breakdown and the subsequent attempts to move forward and find happiness. There was too much of a mish mash for me, the  lines became too blurred and bogged down in detail.

Then Jessie meets Owen at a wedding reception and just as she thinks she will always be in a battle over divorce with William there is a glint of happiness. An affection grows between Owen and Jessie and it did seem genuine, Owen gives Jessie the confidence to put William behind her and pursue her dream of becoming partner. Finally there was some light relief and we weren't as bogged down in detail. Owen seemed to be nice guy not out for anything other than a relationship and the title connected to the story as he is the flower seller in question. Although I didn't identify with Jessie at all it was nice to see she was finding some happiness as for the vast majority of the book I found her to be meek and someone who couldn't make up her mind what she wanted in life. I acknowledge discovering your husband has had an affair is one of the most difficult things to come to terms with but she could have found some strength from somewhere considering the profession she was involved in could be dog eat dog at times. The story meandered along with not much happening until the later part of the book. I felt I was just going through the motions turning the pages and was reading just to finish the book as I hate giving up on books unless really necessary. There was too much detail regrading the arguing and back biting between William and Jessie attempting to get one over on the other in terms of divorce proceedings when they finally get under way it did nothing to move the plot on and by that stage it needed to happen.

The story only began moving along and making a bit of sense towards the end, secrets came to light and the wool had been pulled over people's eyes particularly Jessie's. Characters you thought you could trust show their true nature and a sinister undercurrent crept in and turned everything on its head. But really this all came too late for me and as I had felt I trudged through the majority of the book what Jessie actually does seemed so unrealistic and went against everything I think the author wanted the character to be. I didn't have an ounce of sympathy for her. For a woman that was meant to become stronger and emerge the other side more readily able to deal with life situations she made some very silly decisions and swayed back and forth and really I would have just abandoned everything and started afresh as the two male characters had inflicted enough hurt to last a life time. The ending dragged on far too long and should have been wrapped up as I have said around the 80% mark instead it was a tangled web that became ever more stretched out and tested the patience of the reader.

I've seen rave reviews for The Flower Seller but unfortunately this book wasn't for me and I did give it every opportunity possible and can say I read to the end in order to make a fair judgement. I suppose we can't all like the same books and that is the beauty of being a reader as we are free to express our opinions and not everyone has to be in agreement. It would be a dull life if we all enjoyed the same books and I'm sure there will be people you will enjoy this book but sadly I wasn't one of them.

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