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The January Flower by Orla Broderick

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Women’s Fiction

By Grushenka Arnold

Some weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting author Orla Broderick at a reading from her debut book ‘The January Flower’. Broderick is an inspiring author who offers a truly infectious optimism about writing.

The January Flower is a deeply moving and intriguing tale about one woman’s journey into the unknown; to ultimately find herself for the sake of her daughter and their respective well being.

Mary strives for a life less complicated; to escape the mundanity of council house living, to escape the ever present dangers and raise her daughter in a world that is peaceful, tranquil and close to nature.

On a rainy day, Wallace enters Mary’s life, bringing with him his turbulent past and his controlling ways. Mary tends to his every whim, but finds herself in a precarious predicament. She enlightens and teaches her daughter all the things that being close to nature offers, but Wallace is not convinced that this is the right way to raise a child. Mary’s dabbling in shamanism, to try to shed the past and ‘find herself’ may have an adverse effect on both hers and her daughter’s lives. Having forgone all material luxuries and the wrath of council house living, Mary battles with social workers to justify her minimalist existence and to demonstrate that she has the ability to raise her daughter appropriately.

Broderick’s writing style encapsulates Scottish island highland living perfectly. Most chapters within the book offer breathtaking descriptions of the Scottish countryside.

Broderick confesses that this style of writing was not necessarily one that she is accustomed to. But she developed this style to ‘stand out from the crowd’ and that is exactly what Broderick has achieved. Broderick’s style of writing is unique and refreshing; it takes you by the hand, takes you into an unfamiliar world and shows you around. Every sense is engaged. You can see, smell, hear and almost taste and feel the experiences of an unfamiliar world without having to leave your chair.

I loved this story and I would recommend it as a highly entertaining read. It is also available as an e-book.

Inspired by the last line of ‘Advent’ by Patrick Kavanagh, ‘The January Flower’ is a very apt title for the story that encapsulates the journey and, indeed, the rebirth of a new life for the main character involved. Themes of love, curiosity, danger, acceptance, being at one with nature and loss etc., feature in the story but are brought together to provide a truly enjoyable tale that will leave you disappointed that the story should come to an end.

‘And every year, as winter ends , as the snow melts, and the days get a stretch in them, you will see the delicate white head of the first flower, bringing a reminder, year on year, that the cycle of life goes on. No matter what happens, no matter what the year throws at you, Spring always comes.’ (Broderick, 2012, p.227)

About The Author
Orla Broderick is originally a native of county Wicklow in Ireland, but now lives in Scotland with her daughter. This is her first critically acclaimed book of fiction. Broderick was first published in The Irish Times and now also conducts creative writing workshops while working, writing and being a full-time mum.
Council House Publishing: Scotland 2012

Book Reviewer: Grushenka Arnold © 2013

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