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The Florist's Daughter Hardcover – October 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Hampl (Blue Arabesque; I Could Tell You Stories) begins her very personal memoir with one hand clutching her dying mother Mary's hand, the other composing an obituary on a yellow tablet—an apt sendoff for an avid reader of biographies. As years of dutiful caretaking and a lifetime of daughterhood come to an end, Hampl reflects on her middle-class, mid-20th century middle-American stock, the kind of people who assume they're unremarkable... even as they go down in licks of flame. Since her Czech father, Stan, couldn't afford college during the Depression, he made a livelihood as a florist. Hampl's wary Irish mother, a library file clerk, endowed her with the traits of wordiness and archival passion. Like Hampl, Mary was a kind of magic realist—a storyteller who, finding people and their actions ancillary, could haunt an empty room with description as if readying it for trouble. The memoir begins with the question of why, in spite of her black-sheep, wanderlust-hippie sensibilities, Hampl never left her hometown of St. Paul, Minn. In the end, the reason is clear. There was work to do, beyond daughterly duty: Nothing is harder to grasp than a relentlessly modest life, she writes. With her enchanting prose and transcendent vision, she is indeed a florist's daughter—a purveyor of beauty—as well as a careful, tablet-wielding investigator, ever contemplative, measured and patient in her charge. (Oct.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
"Nothing is harder to grasp than the relentlessly modest life," observes Patricia Hampl, the award-winning author of several memoirs. In The Florist’s Daughter, she turns the focus from herself to her parents and their ordinary lives. Resisting the impulse to be sentimental, she "homes in on the unguarded moment, the pivot of contradiction, that reveals character" (Newsday) and brings Stan and Mary Hampl to vivid life in her lovely prose and breathtaking metaphors. Critics note that the title is somewhat misleading and that some of Hampl’s language is a bit over the top, but these were minor complaints. Honest, humorous, and heartfelt, Hampl’s storytelling shines in what the New York Times Book Review calls her "finest, most powerful book yet."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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St. Paul, MN, my neighbor, in such an enjoyable way.Read more