I just finished reading "A Memory of Violets" by Helen Gaynor. It was recommended to me by a friend a few weeks ago and after reading a snippit of it I had to acquire the book and read on.
It is a book about sisters Florrie and Rosie who were part of the flower selling community in the East End of London in the late 1800's. It is also a book about Tilly and Esther, sisters as well, who lived in the Lake District and even though the four girls came from different backgrounds they all had severe burdens to bear and their stories were entwined to make a compelling story.
It was a very sad story of loss -- lots of loss -- and hardship -- much of that as well but also the story of a benefactor so benevolent that he saved the lives and made homes for hundreds of homeless, destitute, crippled and blind girls in the area. It was heartwarming.
This is clearly a period novel based on the life and work of John Groom -- Albert Shaw in the book. The other characters, Flossie and Rosie, Tilly and Esther and a whole host of others were fictional, based on knowledge of the flower girls that had been written about previously.
I had a hard time putting the book down because of the delightful twists and turns -- letters written, diaries kept. It was interesting and I learned a bit about the Eliza Doolittle's of London. It was sad all along but the ending was poignant and very satisfying.