One of the Most Unique Books I’ve Read in Ages

Have you ever read a book that surprised you? Maybe you didn’t expect to like it and you did, or expected to and didn’t? That can work either way. Maybe the description makes you have a certain expectation, and you find something else? This review is one of those kind. This is “Whorticulture” by Marie-Anne Mancio. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. This consideration has no bearing upon my review in any way.

I was at once intrigued by the title. I assumed it would be about prostitution, but I wasn’t sure where the rest fit in. It starts with a child wondering when her father will return. All she has of him is a faded and creased letter. It is followed by the stories of 4 women in the antebellum era. The reader is introduced to Katharine, a young woman who while being educated into being a lady, due to circumstances, gets more of an education than she bargained for; Abigail, a young lady that falls for a thief; Seraphine, a young mulatto woman, who is a prostitute and wants to reinvent herself; and Emily, an abused wife stranded on a large sugar plantation.

These women’s stories are like four short stories and although each are unaware of one another, their lives intertwine. The chapters are designated with flowers. The author supplies the reader with a flower reference, and tells us that each flower has a certain meaning. This all correlates with each individual and their personality. This is a very different concept and very ingenious way of showing the personality of each woman. It is peopled with all types of characters; you have gamblers, whores, liars, abusers; all living in a era that today’s readers want to know more about.

To be honest, I found myself a bit lost in some parts. I expected the flowers to be mentioned more within the stories because the chapter heading included them. Maybe if I had read it in one sitting I would have not have felt this way, I had to go back and forth and wondered how it fit together. Due to this, about halfway through I wasn’t sure how I liked it. Now, here comes the surprise I mentioned. I kept reading and saw how each interacted and I found that I wanted to know more. I thought it was so original an idea, that I found I really did like it after all. I recommend it if you want to read something different and unique and want to be taken somewhere you have never been before. After all, isn’t that why we read fiction in the first place?

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8 thoughts on “One of the Most Unique Books I’ve Read in Ages

  1. This makes me ponder, did I ever feel that I have read a unique book? It is difficult to answer this question, I think my answer will change from time to time. Right now I can say, ‘The Yearling’ by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is a unique and certainly one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is a story of how a child encounters the harsh realities of life which turn him prematurely into an adult. It is one of those books which linger in your mind even years later.

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    • Thank you for that insight. This is a book I haven’t read yet and it sounds great. I love to read books where the characters, the setting and the imagery lingers long after the book is done. That is what I hope to achieve with my debut novel. So far, I am only at the research point, and since the majority of it will be based in the Old West circa 1971, I have a lot of research to do. I am really excited about it. It is a labor of love because it is based in my old home town. It will be part ghost story and historical. Keep watching my blog, if I get brave, I may print an excerpt.. 🙂

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  2. That’s a great review, Becky, for a great book 🙂 I can heartily second your recommendation on this one. I’ll be reading it a 2nd time as soon as I get chance as I’m sure I’ll take away even more from it on a re-read.

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    • Thank you, Jay. I agree, I think it deserves a 2nd reading. If I ever find the time, I will do that too! 🙂 I was so impressed with the concept of prostitution and flowers. Very unique..hence, the title! I am so sorry to be so late with it. I hope it didn’t hold anyone else up. I wish you luck with your projects. I still have your books in my queue and look forward to reading them. I am reading one now that I am quite impressed with. She just launched a new book and it looks great too. That is what I really love about writing this blog. I have found so much new talent!

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      • I know you’re in the same situation as me – a ‘to read’ list as long as your arm. Keep plugging away at it, though, as I’ll bet I’m not alone in enjoying reading your reviews. Cracking job 🙂

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  3. Thank you Jay! You are right, I do indeed have a TBR list, probably longer than both of our arms..haha.. My TBR=to be reviewed, but if I were to consider it to mean to be read…well, we would be talking 235 books, and that isn’t including reference materials for my current WIP! I have a lot of books in my Kindle.. 🙂 I hope to get even more of an audience on the blog. My next review will be different. For the first time, I will be including an interview with the author! She has agreed to be my guinea pig for my first interview, so keep your eye out for this one! 🙂

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