The Flower Shop

Written by Edwin Mills (trans.) Petra Durst-Benning
Review by Janice Ottersberg

This second book in the Seed Traders’ Saga (after The Seed Woman) begins in 1871 with Flora and her mother traveling to Baden-Baden to meet with their seed customers. Flora, having grown up in Gönningen, Germany, comes from a long tradition of seed traders. The whole village has depended on this industry of selling vegetable and flower seeds throughout Europe, but Flora wants to follow her own interests. She loves flowers, not the seeds. While in Baden-Baden, a famous spa town, they meet the elderly Kuno, who has collapsed in front of his flower shop. This leads to Flora moving to Baden-Baden the following summer as an apprentice in Kuno’s shop. She is so involved in learning the business that love never crosses her mind until Kuno’s son, Friedrich, proposes. She has enjoyed their friendship and agrees to marry. A child quickly follows, but gradually they grow apart as each follow different interests in their careers. Kuno resists every idea Flora has to improve the failing business. When he dies and that resistance to change dies with him, Flora is able to turn the business around. She becomes a sought-after florist with the royal Russian summer visitors as well as the town’s people. When she meets the handsome Russian Konstantin, her life is turned upside down.

It is helpful to read the first book in the series just for the background of Flora’s parents and the seed trading culture of Gönningen. This follow-up book centers on Flora’s love of flowers and the growth of the flower shop because of her interest in the special meanings of the language of flowers. The book is slow during the first half, but gains momentum and interest halfway through. Durst-Benning writes a love story that develops through real-life challenges and human failings. This is a charming, pleasurable read.