The main character in this book is a woman who lives in a small house attached to a cemetery where she tends graves and nurtures people who come to mourn. Violette Toussaint is a cemetery keeper at the Brancion-en-Chalon cemetery in Burgundy. She is dedicated to caretaking and simply offers kindness. She takes great pride in her work. But what is Violette’s story? How did she come to be in this place? This lyrical novel is atmospheric and immersive and I longed to get back to it whenever I had to put it down.
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin, translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle, is a beautifully written and timeless novel that contains mysteries that slowly get resolved and stays compelling right to the end. Even though the story skips around in time a bit, it is easy to follow and is in equal measures heartbreaking and life-affirming. The writing is what makes this novel special and the characters are so well drawn. Even though there is tragedy, betrayal, and regret, this intimate story is also full of compassion, gentle humour, hope and love.
Note: readers should know that there is mature content and infidelity in this novel – it is France, after all, but it may be triggering for some.