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Flora

Cover of Flora

Flora

A Novel
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The family members Helen depended on are gone. She lost her mother some years before, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away. And now her father has left town to work on a top secret military project at Oak Ridge during the final months of World War II. Helen is wise beyond her years, but a ten-year-old cannot be left on her own to fend for herself. Her father arranges a summer guardian, Flora, her late mother's twenty-two year old first cousin who cries at the drop of a hat. A fiercely imaginative child, Helen is desperate to keep her house intact, with all its ghosts and stories. Flora is the good-hearted, modest cousin who wants to do her best for Helen. Their relationship and its fallout, played out against a backdrop of a lost America, will haunt Helen for the rest of her life.

The family members Helen depended on are gone. She lost her mother some years before, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away. And now her father has left town to work on a top secret military project at Oak Ridge during the final months of World War II. Helen is wise beyond her years, but a ten-year-old cannot be left on her own to fend for herself. Her father arranges a summer guardian, Flora, her late mother's twenty-two year old first cousin who cries at the drop of a hat. A fiercely imaginative child, Helen is desperate to keep her house intact, with all its ghosts and stories. Flora is the good-hearted, modest cousin who wants to do her best for Helen. Their relationship and its fallout, played out against a backdrop of a lost America, will haunt Helen for the rest of her life.

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About the Author-
  • Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Unfinished Desires, A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961—1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Woodstock, New York. Visit her website at gailgodwin.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 11, 2013
    Narrator Helen Anstruther, “going on eleven,” is the relentlessly charismatic and wry star of this stirring and wondrous novel from Godwin (Unfinished Desires). In the summer of 1945, in the mountains of North Carolina, Helen is trying to make sense of the world since her beloved grandmother’s death. When her father leaves to do “secret work for World War II” in neighboring Tennessee, this becomes much more challenging, and Helen, motherless for years, is left in the care of 22-year-old Flora, a delicate and, Helen might say, hopelessly effusive relative. Helen has grown up in a rambling old house that once served as a home for convalescent tubercular or inebriate “Recoverers” under the care of Helen’s physician grandfather. For a precocious girl who has lost everyone who’s ever loved and known her, the house becomes a mesmerizing and steadfast companion. Though Flora initially appears to Helen as little more than a country bumpkin, their time together profoundly transforms them both. Godwin’s thoughtful portrayal of their boredom, desires, and the eventual heartbreak of their summer underscores the impossible position of children, who are powerless against the world and yet inherit responsibility for its agonies. Agent: Moses Cardona, John Hawkins & Associates.

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    Bloomsbury USA
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Flora
Flora
A Novel
Gail Godwin
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