Excerpt from Ella In Bloom by Shelby Hearon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ella In Bloom

by Shelby Hearon

Ella In Bloom by Shelby Hearon X
Ella In Bloom by Shelby Hearon
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2002, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The very first time I stopped to talk to Henry, and to watch him prune, clip, pinch faded blooms, he showed me one of his prizes, the Natchitoches Noisette, which had been grown from a clipping found near an old fort that went back to the 1700s. Its cupped pink flowers smelled, he said, of myrrh. I was enchanted: who had an inkling of the odor of myrrh? I went straight home and wrote of the rose to my mother, and that was the beginning of my correspondence garden.

Did she visualize rosebushes against a wall? Did she repeat their names? Did the thought of them take her back to her girlhood in East Texas, not unlike our part of Louisiana? Or did I only hope that at the least she was not sorry to receive my letters?

In January, in a blustery wind the week after the funeral, I'd bought a box of heavy notepaper at the Belle Vue gift shop. Soon, I would need another. Getting out a sheet, I saw that my hands were so damp I'd be bound to smudge the ink. I wiped them, and then, giving in, turned the window unit to high to dry myself, cool myself, enough to write. First lifting my arms over my head to dry the undersides, then leaning over to get the back of my neck. I held a cube of ice to my cheek. Dear Mother, Dear Mother. The sweating wasn't only from the heat. Part of it was from the effort of dissembling, at the age of forty-three, as if I were a child of ten lying about her friends, her grades, what her teacher said.


Dear Mother,

I worry about you and Daddy in the dreadful heat. I hope you are managing. And what of your poor yard?

My roses all flourish in our heat (even if we don't) because they get plenty of moisture and the nights are cool. I have added a new rose, over against the west wall, where there was a break in the bricks and where the soil seemed a little thin, an English hybrid called Queen of Denmark. Silk-soft, pale pink, it perfumes the air wherever planted.
Did I mention to you I got a spot on my favorite linen dress' An ivory Moygashel with a square neck and gored skirt. I used a bit of soap and cold water, and hope to be able to wear it to White Linen Night. This is a fund-raising event for all the Old Metairie garden clubs, and a very nice social evening to which a young widow like myself can feel comfortable going alone.

Birdie - as I believe I told you Robin is calling herself - is taking cello lessons this summer. Such a good thing, for a girl to have a musical proficiency.

Please take care of yourself and Daddy.

Love,
Ella



One Violet Lane
Old Metairie

Chapter 2

I was on my way to take a shower when the phone rang. 'Hello,' I said, trying to sound upbeat. Every call was a potential job.

'Guten Tag.'

Daddy. My daddy. 'Hi,' I answered, trying not to choke on the word. This was an old routine. Daddy and Mother, on some trip abroad, had found a card in a hotel room translating Good Morning into French, German, and English: Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hi. They'd thought that a good joke and shared it with my sister and me. A half century it seemed ago, when the world was young. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand.

Maybe he was doing the same. Families weren't supposed to divorce one another.

'Your mother',' he began, then coughed a bit, cleared his throat.

'How is Mother doing?' I blew my nose.

'She wants you to come for her birthday. You and?' He coughed again.

'Birdie,' I reminded him, the new name my daughter had adopted. What her daddy had called her, when he had. I'd mentioned it in January, but how could it have registered at such a time? Robin, her given name, was what my sister had longed to be called - a movie-star name, she'd said, a fashion-model name. She'd never liked hers, Terrell. In school her teachers had thought it a boy's name or called her Terry. Her married name, Terrell Hall, she claimed, sounded like a freshman dorm. I'd given her my daughter's name as a gift, but by then it hadn't mattered.

Excerpted from Ella in Bloom by Shelby Hearon Copyright 1/1/01 by Shelby Hearon. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Age of Living Machines
    The Age of Living Machines
    by Susan Hockfield
    In the face of looming global challenges, such as overpopulation, resource depletion and disease, Dr...
  • Book Jacket
    The Mars Room
    by Rachel Kushner
    There is palpable tension between expectation and reality in Rachel Kushner's third novel. The ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guest Book
    The Guest Book
    by Sarah Blake
    Sarah Blake's critically-acclaimed third novel The Guest Book was a hit with our First Impressions ...
  • Book Jacket: How It Feels to Float
    How It Feels to Float
    by Helena Fox
    Even though Biz's dad has been dead for ten years, he constantly visits her and tells stories about ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Patsy
    by Nicole Dennis-Benn

    A haunting depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the silent threads of love.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Her Kind of Case
by Jeanne Winer

A highly-recommended emotion-filled legal drama with three starred reviews!

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Conviction

Conviction by Denise Mina

The captivating, utterly unforgettable new thriller for fans of Killing Eve and The Woman in the Window

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

L A Let L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.