TITLE & AUTHOR: The Whitest Flower by Brendan Graham
PUBLISHED: 12 February 2016
I was given a copy by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
Rich and epic Historical Fiction set against the backdrop of the Great Famine. Perfect for fans of Winston Graham and Ken Follett.
It is August 1845. In Dublin’s Botanic Gardens, Phytophora infestans is discovered for the first time. The bacteria blooms throughout the country, blighting potato crops and creating what becomes known as the Great Famine: an event of holocaust proportions that affects every man, woman and child in Ireland.
Ellen O’Malley is one such victim. As the Blight ravages the land, Ellen loses her husband. Alone and vulnerable, she is duped into going to Australia to seek a better life, leaving three of her beloved children behind. Travelling aboard a coffin ship, she arrives emaciated and ill with her new baby. But the country proves a harsh and brutal landscape and a change in fortunes seems further away than ever. But Ellen, a woman with an indomitable spirit, is determined to rise above her oppression and bring her family together once more.
Ellen Rua O’Malley woke and immediately made the sign of the cross on herself. At the ‘Amen’ she pressed the thumb and forefinger of her right hand to her lips, then gently laid the hand in turn on the heads of her husband and three children. Unaware of her blessing, they continued to sleep – Michael, her husband, nearest the wall as was the custom; the children on the other side of the still-warm space she had occupied.
WHAT I THOUGHT
The Whitest Flower completely swept me away. I found this historical epic completely absorbing and mesmerising. I only have very brief knowledge of Irish history so the book was fascinating because of the information it contained. At times, I was so hooked on what I was reading I literally couldn’t tear myself away from the page. I lost hours at time reading this and it was well worth it. It’s been ages since a book engrossed me so much. I love it when that happens; when a book, the world, events and people becomes so real you can’t look away. Ellen goes through some pain and tragedy in the book and I found it heart-breaking at times. The characters in the book and the world they inhabit was so real I felt like I was part of it. One of my favourite parts is when Ellen goes to Australia to find a new life and the author’s gives us a glimpse of Australian history which I had no knowledge of and found very interesting. Ellen is a great character, wonderfully human and real. The Whitest Flower is highly recommended.