The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park: A Novel. Elizabeth Cooke. Random House Publishing Group. July 2014. 368 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780425262596.
Elizabeth Cooke has written a noble, admirable follow-up novel to Rutherford Park: A Novel. The stereotypical characters and events of old are all about to be blown to bits!
Harry Cavendish has grown up as a Dad and now is about to serve as a member of the Royal Flying Corps fighting in World War I in 1915. The world’s not a pretty place at all and aristocracy and servants are all expected to “do their part” in the war effort at home and abroad. The dreams, the fantasies and the reality unfold in amazing, step-by-step scenes that grip the reader’s full attention and participation immediately, never flagging throughout the 300+ pages that follow.
Harry’s mother, Octavia, has dramatically changed. She’s suffered a tremendous loss of her great love, lives amid the frozen shambles of a marriage and is trying to find purpose in her life. She’s a suffragette before her time and begins making a difference on the home front by forcing healthy and safe changes in those who work in the family business. William, her husband, must face reality to recover from a broken heart, a truth previously hidden by the “stiff upper lip” so much part of the problem with the upper class in England at that time.
Servants and even the town’s chaplain join the military as well; their descriptions of before and after the “Great War” are brutally surrealistic but oh so real!
Octavia’s lover, John, writes letters to his love every day and is about to make the most pivotal journey of his life, a stunning portion of this powerful novel in so many ways.
The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park is a very well-crafted story involving changes that force several conclusions about war and relationships but do so in a style full of tension and evolving progress. The characters in this novel have depth as we share their brutal and tender reflections about this memorably turbulent time. One can’t stop turning the pages of this very engaging novel – loved every page of it and know readers will as well! Fine, fine historical fiction!