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The Brief Life of Flowers Reviews

The Brief Life of Flowers by Fiona Stafford

The Brief Life of Flowers

Fiona Stafford

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: John Murray Publishers Ltd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publication date: 13 Nov 2018
ISBN: 9781473686359

A collection of wide-ranging essays on Britain's best-loved flowers from the author of The Long, Long Life of Trees

4 stars out of 5
22 Nov 2018

"Romantic literature professor explores our fascination with flowers in captivating new book"

A florist’s daughter, she reminds us that, although we buy big, showy bouquets, it’s the humblest flowers that move us most.

Her chapter on daisies is a delight. Did you know they take their name from ‘day’s eye’ — the sun? And, although gardeners battle to keep them from their smooth, green grass, Stafford says they’ve been around longer than lawns. For Geoffrey Chaucer, the daisy was filled with ‘vertu and of alle honour’, always ‘fayr and fresh of hewe’.


4 stars out of 5
John Carey
11 Nov 2018

"From daisies and cowslips to rare ghost orchids, a glowing account of the myths and meanings we impose on flowers."

Despite its pictorial restraint the book glows with colour and it is all in the language, whether Stafford’s own or that of the many poets and writers she quotes. They range from the farm-labourer poet John Clare observing primroses like “patches of flame” in a dark wood, to the modern American poet Mary Oliver glorying in the “dampness and recklessness” of peonies. The Brief Life of Flowers has come out at stocking-filler time, but it is something far rarer: a book to reread and treasure.