The Flower Reader

Written by Elizabeth Loupas
Review by Elena Maria Vidal

The turbulent court of Mary Queen of Scots is the backdrop of The Flower Reader, which tells the tale of Marina Leslie of Granmuir and her struggle for survival in Reformation Scotland. Of mixed French and Scots descent, “Rinette,” as she is called, possesses a clairvoyant gift which is stirred by the presence of flowers. Nevertheless, having the knowledge of future events does not prevent her from being almost continuously in trouble.

A distant relative and protégée of Marie de Guise, Rinette is entrusted by Marie with a silver casket of Nostradamus’ prophecies which must be delivered to no one but young Queen Mary. While determined to fulfill her promise to the late Queen, Rinette is also intent upon marrying young Alexander Gordon, whom she not only loves but who will help her to keep her lands out of the hands of more powerful nobles. When Alexander is killed by a mysterious assassin, Rinette must use the hidden silver casket as a bargaining chip to save not only her patrimony but to obtain Queen Mary’s help in bringing his assassin to justice. Nothing turns out as she plans, however; very few characters are what she first thinks them to be, except of course Rannoch Hamilton, who proves to be a greater wretch than Rinette ever suspected.

Mary Stuart is portrayed in all the fullness of her enchanting youth: impulsive and sweet, majestic and clever but also vain, naïve, temperamental and slightly neurotic. Her court is brought to life, as are the various factions and plots which rend Scotland asunder and lead to Mary’s downfall. Loupas accurately depicts a stormy, complex era by means of a page-turning mystery and romance.