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?