Fresh Water for Flowers
Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her life is lived to the predictable rhythms of the often funny, always moving confidences that casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues share with her. Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of Julien Sole—local police chief—who has come to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear that Julien’s inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette’s own complicated past.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
“Violette Toussaint, caretaker of a cemetery in a small town in France, makes arrangements for funerals and religious services for the deceased and their family. Only someone who had been abandoned at birth, neglected by foster parents, would fully understand the need to comfort those left behind. In her past, others underestimated Violette and often bullied her, but she surpassed any of their presumptions. Her current life is uneventful, regulated and satisfying, until a stranger appears with an unusual request for dealing with his dead mother’s ashes. This sets off a series of events that peel back layers of Violette’s former life, which are poignant, funny, and reveal mysteries and secrets that were perhaps best left buried. Valerie Perrin’s characterization of her protagonist speaks out to those who are “the other”, no matter the conditions of their lives. The plot is life-affirming, joyous and highly ironic because the setting is in a cemetery, whose caretaker is the protagonist.
Los Angeles Public Library, United States