Welcome to my new rabbit hole.
By the cover of the book pictured, have you guessed my new rabbit hole? I suspect you haven’t, especially if you’ve never read that book or you focus on that rose.
Oh wait, I put it in the title!
I discovered An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden (1955) while reading Gardening Can Be Murder by Marta McDowell (2023). Marta included An Episode of Sparrows in one of her many lists of mysteries featuring plants and gardeners.
An Episode of Sparrows does feature a mystery at the beginning, and it is solved at the end of the book, or rather, you read about the “criminals” committing the crime at the end of the book. The criminals are children who steal good dirt from a London garden. But between the opening of the book and the criminal act near the end is the story of a nearly abandoned little girl who picks up a packet of seeds, becomes interested and then obsessed with gardening, especially when she sees, covets, and buys on credit a flat of pansies for her new garden, which is hidden away in the bombed out ruins of a church in south London.
And thus my new rabbit hole. What other books feature pansies, violets, or violas as part of the story. Not just mere mentions, but as flowers that are a part of the story?
I decided to do an online search to find out.
And discovered that no one has put together such a list of books. I am not surprised and will admit it is a rather obscure genre of fiction.
I also discovered if you search for books using a term like “pansy” you’ll find lots of trashy romance novels about someone named Pansy, or books about people called pansies, or a whole bunch of books written in the late 1800s and early 1900s by an author who used “Pansy” as a pen name. She wrote a lot of books.
I then tried a similar search using “violets,” along the lines of “fiction books featuring violets” and came up with A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London’s Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor. As luck would have it, it is already on my Kindle, so I’ll read it and see if it meets my criteria. It sounds like it might.
And I’ll write this blog post and publish it to see if anyone else knows of any books that feature pansies, violets, or violas as a big (or little) part of the story. You can email me or leave a comment if you can think of such a book.
By the way, it’s always a bit tricky to use “violas” as the search term… so many music books…