Floral fiction: If you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

‘The Memories That Make Us’

If you dream of escaping to the country or growing flowers on your land, or indeed just have a thing for either flowers, the country life, romance and following your heart, you’re in for a treat.

Melbourne writer Vanessa Carnevale has expertly captured the profound and enchanting effect of flowers in a story of second chances and self discovery.

Soon to be married, Gracie is suddenly wiped of all memory with a serious car accident. She can remember nothing of her life prior to the accident so instead of moving forward with a life already planned, she calls off the wedding and escapes to her late mother’s abandoned flower farm in Daylesford, Victoria.

Childhood memories and a strong connection to flowers take her on a different path…. I’m only a third of the way through and hooked….

Here’s an excerpt from the book and author Vanessa, answered a couple of questions for me….

The Memories That Make Us (Hi-Res)

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It was the harvest of my ninth year. ‘Flowers start to heal themselves once they’ve been cut,’ said Mum, as she snipped the stem of a rose at the perfect angle, right at the place where it intersected a new leaf line. 

She said that everything I needed to know about life was in the flowers;

..they held all the answers to all the questions I might have.  The scent of my childhood wafted around us in that crisp morning breeze, an olfactory cocktail of blossoming flowers and freshly cut grass. We stood there in silence between the vines of ruffled blooms, the early rays causing the scattered dew drops to listen; a gentle wake-up call from Mother Nature letting us know there was work to do on our five-acre plot. Soon the bees would start swarming from their wooden hotels, orienting themselves with the sun, and the tulips would slowly yawn and stretch, opening their petals to greet the first morning light.

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Cut flower garden (at Ballymaloe House)

Q. What inspired you to write a book with flowers as a central theme? 

VANESSA:

The first spark of an idea for this book came to me in the form of a question: ‘if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?’ I had come across the gorgeous notion of small-scale flower farming and always thought it would make a great setting for a book. Once Gracie’s character came to me, setting the story on a flower farm felt like a perfect fit. Gracie has no recollection of her past, and flowers are strongly connected to emotion as well as memories (of events and people), so they act like an anchor not only to nature for Gracie, in a time when she is lost. This is a story of self-discovery, and in allowing Gracie to follow that journey in this setting really speaks to the way nature (and working with flowers) can help us connect with our true selves.

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Manuela from Gang and the Wool

You have a great knowledge of flowers, growing and floristry, did you need to do much research?

VANESSA:

I always joke that before writing this book I couldn’t even keep a cactus alive! So I did need to do a lot of research, which I loved. I read books and researched information on the web and in scientific journals, but I also did a lot of hands-on research because I wanted to experience the wonder and joy of flower growing for myself, just as Gracie does in the story. I ordered seeds, tubers and corms, as well as several bare-rooted roses and peonies and I started growing them in my suburban back yard. At one point I ran out of room so I dug the veggies out of a raised bed and planted flowers in it instead!

Vanessa Office

The first spark of an idea for this book came to me in the form of a question: ‘if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?’ I had come across the gorgeous notion of small-scale flower farming and always thought it would make a great setting for a book. Once Gracie’s character came to me, setting the story on a flower farm felt like a perfect fit. Gracie has no recollection of her past, and flowers are strongly connected to emotion as well as memories (of events and people), so they act like an anchor not only to nature for Gracie, in a time when she is lost. This is a story of self-discovery, and in allowing Gracie to follow that journey in this setting really speaks to the way nature (and working with flowers) can help us connect with our true selves.

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Once I started growing my own flowers, I decided I should take a course in arranging them, so I enrolled in a workshop offered by Bloom College, to learn more. My garden now has over twenty-five rose bushes, several peonies, dahlias and more. I always have fresh flowers in the house and it’s just a delight!

ABOUT THE BOOK

After an accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia, she’s forced to decide: live a life that is made up of other people’s memories of who she was, or start a new life on her own. Leaving her fiance Blake behind, she moves to the country where she takes on the task of reviving her family’s abandoned flower farm. While attempting to restart a business with an uncertain future, she tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a mother she can’t remember and a fiance she so badly wants to fall in love with again.

What she doesn’t count on is developing a deep connection with Flynn, a local vet. Worst of all is having to confront the fact that she might lose either chance at love. Forced to examine the person she has become, Gracie confronts the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa Carnevale is a novelist and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, who has contributed to The Green Parent, The Huffington Post, Muse, and Italy magazine, among others. Her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge, was published in 2017. She was a finalist in the Best New Author category for the AusRom Today Readers Choice Awards 2017. Vanessa is also the creator and host of Your Beautiful Writing Life retreats held in Daylesford, Victoria and Tuscany, Italy.

Links: www.vanessacarnevale.com

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful interview Sarah and such a lovely magical story! x

    1. The Flower Press says:

      Thanks Danielle! yes a lovely story, it’s got it all – great concept, romance, flowers!

  2. Maryann says:

    Look forward to reading this. What a lovely mix of themes. Thanks for letting us know. 💐

    1. The Flower Press says:

      Thanks Maryann, it is a such a lovely mix, and a lovely feel good tale. Enjoy!

    2. The Flower Press says:

      No worries Maryann! Hope you’ve had a chance to read!

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