Herbarium, Las flores de Gideon begins with Sarah returning to Oxford following her father’s death. She had moved to Brasilia five years ago after her father told her an unexpected truth about her past, which caused her to run away. During her stay in Oxford, she visits her grandmother, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s, and staying at a retirement home. Her grandma asks for her help to find Gideon’s flowers that are hidden in copies of Jane Eyre. Sarah doesn’t understand what this means, and while looking for an explanation, she realizes the only person who can help her is Liam, her ex. She didn’t expect the friendliest welcoming on his part, but the distant and cold behavior he shows instead confuses and hurts her more than she had expected. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes that there are parts of her past she can’t run away from and that to make amends, she must stop escaping.
I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I loved it because the plot was very intricate and well-developed. At first, nothing makes sense, but as Sarah begins to learn the correlation between events, it becomes easier to understand what’s going on. Not to mention, I found the analyses of Jane Eyre captivating and how the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester could be seen as an analogy between Sarah and Liam. Also, I love flowers, and since this book discusses flowers and their meaning, I don’t think I have to explain why I enjoyed the story so much.
I would love to give this book five stars, but I can’t. I found the writing style to be rather plain. The first half of the story is written in first person from Sarah’s perspective. The second half is written in third person since it describes Liam’s perspective somewhat more. I did not see the point in doing this. The entire story could have been written in third person, perhaps except for Gideon’s chapters.
Some parts of the novel felt rather cliché, predictable and redundant. I couldn’t relate to the main characters, since almost all of their problems have roots in miscommunication, which made them appear more immature than they were supposed to. The ending was resolved too quickly, like all of a sudden the characters are living happily ever after, but there are no specific details into how that was achieved. Oh, and let’s not forget about the stereotype with the tea. I’ve never visited the UK, though it’s universal knowledge that the British love drinking tea. However, I think the author over-did it a bit.
Even though it did not meet my overall expectations, it was an entertaining read. It had the potential to be five star worthy. I believe it could make an excellent movie or series.