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Haunting, poignant story about love, loss, humility, and regret
on April 11, 2014
Gail Godwin has crafted such an affecting story in "Flora," a lyrically-written tale that stayed with me long after the final page was turned. Set in a rambling, crumbling old North Carolina house during the final days of World War II, the story is -- at its core, I think -- about the nature and loss of childhood innocence juxtaposed against those (seemingly) long-ago days surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima. In the main characters of Helen and Flora, the story pairs nearly diametric opposites in extremely close quarters, and simply asks us to consider the numerous shades and layers involved in love, loyalty, duty, grief, and forgiveness. Godwin also populates her pages with an abundance of troubled, witty, and wonderful supporting players -- many of whom are simply echoes of colorful lives already played out, but still very much influencing core character decisions. The memories of long, lazy childhood summers are brought to life in vivid and almost aching detail; as the book winds its way to a quietly observed crescendo of nostalgia, heartache, and remorse. But although this beautiful masterwork is not necessarily uplifting, it is -- much like an Alice Munro short story -- unflinching in its honesty and ultimately redemptive.