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‘Fresh Water for Flowers’ is the perfect heart-warming seductive read for your book club to read over the summer. Perrin writes with captivating compassion and humility amid a multitude of wonderful observations about life and human nature. Touching and poignant – you won’t want Violette’s story to end!

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Den scores




474 pages

“I close Irene’s journal with a heavy heart. The way one closes a novel one has fallen in love with. A novel that‘s a friend from whom it’s hard to part, because one wants it close by, in arm’s reach.”

This quote from the central character Violette, is how the Den felt about this book. ‘Fresh Water for Flowers’ by Valérie Perrin may be a lengthy read, but it’s a read you won’t want to end. The story is a beautifully observed narration of life, death, love, grief and hope. The Den think this is the perfect heart-warming, seductive book for your book club to choose to read over the summer!

Violette Touissaint is the cemetery keeper at Brancion-sur-Chalon cemetery in France and the first person anyone who walks through the gates of this cemetery are likely to meet. She leads a quiet, solitary life in the cemetery lodge where she tends the gravesides and cares for the vegetables and flowers in the garden. Violette’s front door is always open to the gravediggers Nono, Gaston and Elvis, the priest Father Cédric Duras, the undertakers - the three Lucchini brothers, plus any visitor to the cemetery who wants to learn more about her closest neighbours, the dead! Violette conscientiously keeps a register of the date of every funeral, those in attendance, the plaque engravings, even the weather on that particular day but most importantly the eulogies. People confide in Violette as they know they can trust this quiet, beautiful lady who tends the cemetery.

As Violette shares her world with us, so her tragic backstory is revealed. Without giving the story away, when we meet Violette she is contented and kind but you immediately sense she has experienced great unhappiness. Violette meets three people who are to change her life: Celia, a stranger who becomes a lifelong friend, Sasha the previous cemetery keeper who teaches her about the healing powers of nature and Julien who needs to understand why his mother wants to be buried next to a complete stranger in Brancion-sur-Chalon cemetery.

Perrin writes with captivating compassion and humility and leaves you with a multitude of wonderful observations about life and human nature. This is a read to treasure and as the title of the book infers, you know you are healing when you give “fresh water to the flowers.”

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