Thursday, November 22, 2012

Whorticulture by Marie-Anne Mancio

As a girl waits for the return of her disappeared father, the story of four migrant women unravels. In antebellum America: a daydreamer from the country gets an unexpected education on the Mississippi river; a storekeeper falls in love with a thief amid the chaos of Gold Rush San Francisco; a fugitive quadroon re-invents herself in a New York brothel; and a young bride is trapped on a Louisiana sugar plantation. Though they do not know it, their lives are inextricably linked by the men they encounter. Peopled by whores, tricksters, gamblers, do-gooders, liars, and fools, and with allusions to the coded language of flowers, Whorticulture is about prostitution in its myriad forms. Contains a helpful discussion guide for book groups and a flower dictionary.

Whorticulture is an anthology of four historical fiction stories about women who, for one reason or another, were forced to sell themselves physically or spiritually to men in order to overcome adversity in their lives. Each chapter is headed by a reference to a particular flower which provides a link to the individual and different stories.  

The women in the stories were fascinating, victims of their own particular era (albeit all set in the mid 1800’s in different locales). The novel is very well written and researched with plenty of details to really bring each setting to vivid life These four poignant stories are highly entertaining, giving readers a fascinating insight into the plight of women during this period in history.

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