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  • Flora
  • Customer reviews



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.
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on March 18, 2015
Well written but sometimes a bit dry, not unusual for Godwin's work. This novel tends to be dark, as the protagonist is an intelligent child whose life in the southern U.S. has been constrained by the frequent absences of her widowed father and the strict rules under which she is required to live. When the father leaves for the summer to help with WWII work at Oak Ridge, he hires a distant cousin to come from Alabama to take care of Flora, even though the girls are not much different in age. The cousin has grown up in poverty with several family members, while Flora has lived in relatively wealthy, entitled circumstances. She is an unhappy and often lonely child, especially since the death of her grandmother, and is often unkind and critical of others. The girls do learn from each other's differences. The book ends rather abruptly in an unexpectedly tragic way but with the hint of profound changes and a happier future for Flora.
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on August 29, 2013
The reviews made me think I'd enjoy this book but found it
ever so slow and I could not become attached to the characters
of get into it. Have seen this authors books so many times, I
felt surely it would be just for me but sadly-not. I wanted to
like the characters but they just didn't work for me. With
aging, I have finally decided I do not have to finish every book
I read-which at one time I thought was a pre req of any book
started. I put this down as one I didn't need to finish. Too bad.
The characters I tried to like but just didn't.
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on January 14, 2014
I have been reading Gail Godwin for more years than I care to admit, and--although I often found something to enjoy in her stories--I found much her writing plodding and the characters unconvincing. I went back to several of her novels after reading _Flora_, and my opinion of her earlier work has not changed.

_Flora_, however, may be my book of the year (and I read at least 200 novels over the course of any year). Godwin's prose is uncluttered in this work, and her characters are all too real. The narrator is classically unreliable, and I couldn't put it down: I could feel how much pain the narrator was about to encounter, and found myself so frustrated, as the adult remembers her childish mistakes with so little compassion for herself.

Be prepared for some tears and for thinking about remorse, and what we can forgive ourselves and how much we can't forgive. This a beautiful, compassionate book. Read it.
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on January 29, 2017
This is my first time reading author, Gail Godwin and I was happily surprised. Flora seems a simple tale at first and as you'll see, that is because it is told through the eyes of a young girl. It is beautifully written. Godwin tells a story interpreted through that girl's immature mind and self-centeredness perfectly. I will be reading more Gail Godwin. Any suggestions on what I should read next?
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on March 18, 2014
This was a hard book to read in some ways. The young protagonist (Helen) was too bright for her own good, and she carelessly used it to hurt others. Oddly enough, she was somewhat likeable, but I was troubled by her easy way of hurting especially her cousin, who came to care for her while her father was away for the summer.

The writing was exceptional, and that is what I must comment on. The character development was so true-to-life that it did not seem like a novel. I did very much enjoy the writing, the characters, and the storyline. There is a fair amount of sadness in the undertones of this story, but I would highly recommend it. It is a wonderful story with a lot of depth.
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on March 26, 2014
Flora, a distant cousin from Alabama comes to take care of 11 year old Helen whilst Helen's father is off to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, working for the war effort, during his summer off as the principal of the local high school.
Flora is prone to tears at the drop of a feather.
Helen hates Flora because of Flora's long time correspondence with Helen's grandmother Honora, who had died just weeks prior. She learns that her mother who died when she was three, had grown up with Flora. She hates the fact that Flora has kept all of the letters her grandmother wrote, but would never let her see or read.
I could go on, but you need to read this wonderful narrative yourself.
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on July 27, 2017
Well written and despite the maturity of the ten year old ( though I recognize that she was adult as she remembers Flora ) it was apparent that something terrible would happen that summer. It was clever to use the sub plot of bombing and her Father's work to help carry the story. It flows well and held my interest. I have not read Ms Godwin before but I will more in the future.
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on June 10, 2016
I enjoyed this novel - it doesn't live up to some of Godwin's others but it was charming in it's own way. I enjoyed the voices of the characters. I felt that sometimes the main character was describing events in real time, and sometimes looking back. This was a bit disconcerting from an author as accomplished as Gail Godwin. Still, time well spent!
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on July 8, 2014
I love authors who can look into the heart and soul of a child. We all have those old feelings within us but have a hard time bringing them back to life. Gail Goodwin has written a wonderful novel that tugs at your heart with every page. When I finish a book and feel like I want to hug it---I know it was a darn good book. This one got a big hug. It shows a lesson how one quick decision can change your life forever. I reccommend it highly.
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