While I‘m a firm believer that it is always the right time to buy flowers, Mother’s Day in particular is the perfect reason to pick up a bouquet of your mom’s favorites. Daisies, lilies, hydrangeas, tulips—any of these will brighten up her day and her counter or nightstand. Having worked in a florist shop in high school, I am somewhat averse to roses (stripping thorns from stems is just as awful as it sounds) but a huge fan of aromatic hyacinths and beautiful peonies! How clever would it be to pair those pretty petals with a book matching their name? The titles below do just that, and your mom will be as engrossed in these varied tales of love, loss, mystery, and devotion as I was. Happy Mother’s Day!
Amitav Ghosh’s stunning first book of his Ibis Trilogy follows a grand ship filled with a cast of characters as vibrantly detailed as the lands they hail from. Crossing the Indian Ocean aboard the Ibis are stowaways, servants, sailors, rajahs, traders, and more. They share not only the close confines of a schooner in the 1830s, but also a connection to the poppy plant, specifically the opium it produces. On the cusp of a war over narcotics, those aboard struggle against themselves and each other for freedom, acceptance, love, and position.
In the throes of spring with tulips popping up all over, these titular plants were once rare and exotic luxuries, specifically in Amsterdam in the 1630s. An enamored merchant whose wealth cannot help him and his young wife produce an heir commissions a portrait of their small family of two. When the artist and wife inevitably fall in love, all of their lives are altered in a fast-paced spiral of passion and lies. The imaginative telling of this wealthy and ultimately doomed time in Dutch history sets the scene for a painter and a young wife to risk it all.
A scarf decorated with marigolds is the connecting thread between two women experiencing a similar anguish 100 years apart. In New York City’s 1911 and 2011, the two women both fell in love and then lost their husbands in terrible disasters. A well-told examination of grief and resilience, A FALL OF MARIGOLDS manages to be touching and sweet, yet gritty and real when examining how to find hope in despair.
A charismatic convicted murderer and his adoring fans persuade a no-nonsense lawyer to try to overturn his case. At the heart of this story is a man’s fate—is he as guilty as he seems, or has he been wrongly sentenced to life in prison? DAISY IN CHAINS is a dark and twisty psychological thriller, and Sharon Bolton will keep you guessing the whole time.
This book is just like a rose: the petals adorning the cover are as pretty as the sprawling fields and mansions of the wealthy cotton tycoons in a small Texas town. The fragrance is as sweet as the reluctant romance of two star-crossed lovers of the rival town families, and the thorns are as spiky as the drama and deceits that drive them apart. A multigenerational epic, ROSES examines what happens when a determined young woman chooses work over love, and struggles to reconcile the fact that you can’t always turn back.
Nothing says small-town America like dandelions, and Ray Bradbury masterfully weaves the essence of the beautiful weeds into every page of his sweet and magical story about growing up. A grouping of stories of summer routines—porch swings, running through fields, cutting the lawn—and burgeoning self-awareness, DANDELION WINE has all of Bradbury’s entrancing imagery and nostalgia packed into one delightful book.
An ode to the bravery and boundless determination of women, LILAC GIRLS follows three incredibly different yet equally inspiring women during World War II as they navigate the changes in their lives and surroundings. A young German doctor trapped in a field dominated by men and secrets, a Polish courier grasping for the ends of her innocence and youth as she falls further into the resistance, and an American socialite learning to prioritize duty over love are all thrust into the harrowing realm of war and its consequences.
Peony, the titular character in Pearl S. Buck’s classic novel, is a young girl sold into the service of a rich Chinese household in the 1850s. The family who owns and employs her are some Jewish residents of Kaifeng and are raising their only son to marry a neighboring rabbi’s daughter, so he can eventually become a rabbi himself. But hidden love lies in wait for the young characters, and as they grow into their own identities, they struggle to balance their duty to service, family, and themselves.