The seasons of our lives are very much like the seasons of a garden. There are seasons for nurturing, seasons for growing, seasons for pruning, seasons for resting and seasons for blooming,. Flowers of Grace by Teresa Hirst is a story that travels through some of those seasons in the life of Grace, the story’s main character.
Grace is the manager of a retail clothing shop in St. Louis, in a time of change in the world and in retail shopping. When Lilly, the store’s oldest employee, decides to retire, she gives Grace her beloved hibiscus plant with instructions to care for it.
Lily’s retirement is the first of many changes in Grace’s life throughout the course of this book. Following Lilly’s departure, Trenna, the recently graduated daughter of one of the shop’s best customers comes to work, and Grace’s role seems to change from that of being nurtured by Lilly to being a more nurturing figure to Trenna. Or does it?
Grace, who moved to St, Louis after a broken engagement, reminds me a bit of many women I have known. On the surface she seems to have many friendships, but in many ways she is holding back. I think this could be said of many of us and the relationships we make after we reach adulthood.
The interactions between Grace and the other women in the book (as well as her elderly neighbor Mr Reynolds), give us an opportunity to see different aspects of Grace, and her struggles to build relationships and to open up and bloom in her own life. In the beginning, and really throughout much of the book, Grace’s life is colored by her disappointments and what she feels are the “lacks” in her life–the life she wants and feels it might be too late for her to have.
Her focus on the perceived loss of her dreams keeps Grace from moving forward in her life and from seeing the goodness she does have,. Only after a series of unexpected losses are Grace’s eyes finally opened and she is able to begin letting go of the past and looking forward to the future.
This is a story I think many women will be able to relate to. So often we let what we don’t have (or what we think we don’t have) keep us from seeing what we do have and embracing new possibilities.
The hibiscus plant is a metaphor for the changes, challenges and growth in Grace’s life, and integral to the story.
If you are a fan of thoughtful fiction, and of well-told stories that aren’t rote and predictable (yes, there were definitely some surprises I didn’t see coming–I like that in a story), you will enjoy Flowers of Grace.
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