For the first 45% or so of this book I thought it was a beautiful translation of a slice of life story. Nice but kind of average save how I wished I could read it in French. By the end I was like oh 5 stars definitely going to be on a best of the year list from me!
We get the story of Violetta’s current life in her honestly near fairy-tale like days as a cemetery keeper with flashes back to her not so great life with her long-since disappeared husband. We also get the stories, at times, of some of the dead in the cemetery in some cases through fantastic funeral details and some straight up stories.
And then about mid-way we get the tragedy you know is coming but that opens the book up into an actually really engrossing and ultimately heartbreaking mystery. And we get multiple POV’s and the story of one characters mother who surprises him with the request she’d like to spend eternity with her long-time lover.
You think it wouldn’t work with so much (and okay maybe Julien’s story felt a tiny bit crammed in there- not to say it wasn’t important and important to Violetta but still) but it actually does. And it comes together really nicely at the end.
Ultimately I really liked Violetta, the setting and the other characters. Like I said it’s an absolutely beautiful translation from French when the lyrical nature of the narrative really hooked me but it wasn’t overdone or anything like that. It just worked. I think you take what you want from a book like this but I really think Fresh Water for Flowers is about life and living even in the face of death and seemingly insurmountable grief.
It’s about found families, peace and especially finding healing and living in those little moments.
Since I’m raving about the overall beauty and message of the book I do think it’s important to keep in mind trigger warnings for suicide, the death of children and a scene of sexual assault.