Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: The Flower Reader

The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 448pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0451235817
ISBN: 0451235819

(Received for an honest review from New American Library)

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Excerpt from The Flower Reader


With her dying breath, Mary of Guise entrusts a silver casket to Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, who possesses the ancient gift of floromancy. Inside the casket, and meant only for the young Mary, Queen of Scots, are papers the old queen has painstakingly collected—the darkest secrets of every Scottish lord and explosive private prophecies prepared by Nostradamus. Rinette risks her life to keep the casket safe, but she makes a fatal mistake: she shows it to her beloved young husband. On the very day the young queen comes home, Rinette’s husband is brutally assassinated.

Devastated, Rinette demands justice from the queen before she will surrender the casket. Amid glittering masques and opulent weddings, courtly intrigues and Highland rebellions, the queen’s agents and Rinette herself search for the shadowy assassin. They are surrounded by ruthless men from all over Europe who will do anything to force Rinette to give up the casket—threatening her life, stripping her of her beloved castle by the sea, forcing her to marry a man she hates, and driving her from the man she has reluctantly grown to love. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust—and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.


Elizabeth Loupas brings to life the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots in her second novel, The Flower Reader. Loupas has seen great success with her first historical fiction tale, The Second Duchess and successfully dodges the sophomore slump with this story of intrigue and political machinations. Loupas uses the little known art of flower reading to bring this historical mystery into focus, along with some well known historical figures and her own fictional cast of characters. Historical fiction at it's best!

The Flower Reader was my first experience with Elizabeth Loupas' writing, though I had heard great praise for her first book, The Second Duchess. Loupas derives most of her characters from her own imagination. There are several historical figures including Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth mentioned in this book, but the primary focus is on the fictional cast that Loupas has created. Rinette of Granmuir, the protagonist is a fictional character that will grab the readers attention and hold it throughout the book. 

Loupas writes Rinette as a very brave young woman in the face of great political turmoil. When the old queen dies, Rinette is entrusted with a casket that could help Mary, Queen of Scots in her reign. It contains many of Scotland's greatest secrets including information about all of the Scottish lords. It also contains prophecies made by Nostradamus. When Rinette's husband is killed before she can deliver the casket to Mary, Rinette demands justice or she will not turn it over. 

Loupas shows Rinette to be a woman of great courage. She was willing to face down not only those who had killed her husband but the Queen as well. She is forced into many circumstances that she did not anticipate and ends up forcibly married to a man she does not love, yet she continues to show great strength and fortitude throughout the story as she fights for her home, her children, and revenge for the death of the man she loved. It's a great story and Loupas has created a wonderful character that readers will identify with and want to see succeed in her quest.

The art of florancy or flower discernment is something I had never heard of before reading this book and to be honest I thought I had read about just about every kind of magical art that existed since I am a huge paranormal reader. The idea behind this kind of "flower magic" is that Rinette was able to divine the future by reading the flowers that surrounded a person. It was interesting and quite believable in the way the author used it for this story. It was something I was not used to finding in historical fiction and I thought it made a great plot element. I'm interested to see what type of thing Loupas uses in her next book that will have the same kind of impact on the story.

I found Loupas' portrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots very interesting in this book. This is a time when Mary first began her reign. She is still young and impressionable and it is before the great scandals that seem to cloud her time on the throne. I thought Loupas did an amazing job of making Mary more real to the reader. History shows Mary to be a ruthless woman who was willing to do anything to strike at the heart of England, but how did she come to be that way? We see in this book a possibility of how Mary once was. And I thought Loupas did an excellent job with this. It was one of my favorite parts of the novel.

I've been a historical fiction fan for years and I've read a lot of historically based novels. This is probably going to become one of my new favorites and that's saying a lot. I loved the pacing, the premise of the book, the interesting magical elements. I enjoyed the way Loupas portrayed the historical figures and made us love her fictional characters. This is a great read for all historical fiction fans and may crossover for mystery lovers who have a penchant for history. A great read on all levels!

The Flower Reader is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Elizabeth Loupas lives near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

She hates housework, cold weather, and wearing shoes. She loves animals, gardens, and popcorn. Not surprisingly she lives in a state of happy barefoot chaos with her delightful and faintly bemused husband (the Broadcasting Legend™), her herb garden, her popcorn popper, and two beagles.


Anonymous said...

What an intriguing story. It sounds like a book I will thoroughly enjoy. Early Scotland is one of my favorite settings for stories.
Texas is home to many good authors. Elizabeth is a woman after my own heart - barefoot, loves gardens, popcorn (the best food in the world), and BEAGLES. I hope this book does well . It is now on my Amazon Wish list.

Angela - Bookaunt said...

I can't wait to read this book. It sounds like a good one. I have been following the blog hop and it is getting good reviews.

Elizabeth Loupas said...

Hi, Debbie... thank you so much for reading and for writing such a wonderful review! I'm delighted that Rinette's story is among your new favorites. :))

Librarypat, I have to say that it sounds as if you and I are twins separated at birth! Heh. Nothing's better than hot popcorn and silky beagle ears. :)