My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: The author approached me to see if I wanted to write a blurb for her book, a literary thriller, and if so, she’d send me a copy. The book was about plants, and plants are my thing. I took a look at her other writing and decided I would probably enjoy the novel.
I was right. Here’s my blurb:
The delight and grit of Paris, the desperation of poverty, the love of plants and family – all beautifully and authentically told. The literary side of the novel brings sensitivity and texture to the struggling characters and their surroundings, and the thriller side kept me up late, anxious to find out what happens next.
Literary novels tend to emphasize character, and with only a few words, Karen Hugg creates people you might recognize if they came walking down the street. She presents the protagonist with complexity and depth. Renia is a poor Polish immigrant to Paris, working in a floral shop. She has a flower whose scent only seems to attract trouble and danger, but she has neither the resources nor strength to protect the flower and herself and her sister at the same time.
Thriller novels emphasize peril. Because Renia is trapped by poverty, by a conflicted and demanding family that she loves deeply, by other people’s bad decisions, and by a situation that requires more than she has to offer, her troubles grow until her life and the lives of others are in danger. She won’t surrender, but her choices become few and dire.
Those two sides of storytelling combine to become a potent combination.