Flowers from the Storm is a very emotional story about a man (Christian Langland) stricken with a catastrophic stroke which leaves him unable to understand or speak, and is committed to a 19th century insane asylum by his family, who thinks he's gone "mad." It's a really compelling story about a man's struggle to recover his health and rebuild his life against overwhelming odds. A romance develops, but that story is (almost) secondary in my opinion. This is Kinsale at her absolute best. Her website indicates that she had a family member suffer a stroke when Kinsale was quite young and it's apparent that Kinsale did a lot of research for this book. The writing and characterization of Christian are so authentic that you develop a great deal of empathy for him to the point where you intensely feel his frustration and despair at being locked inside a body that will not cooperate.
It so happens that the man stricken by the stroke is a Duke and also a brilliant mathematician. In the meantime, Christian's family is trying to have him declared incompetent, permanently committed to the asylum and stripped of his title. A Quaker woman, Maddy, has volunteered to help her cousin who manages what is considered a progressive insane asylum (for the time). Maddy is filling in for her cousin's wife (who was his clerical assistant) who has taken a pregnancy-related leave of absence. Maddy had met the Duke briefly when he and her father presented their mathematical work at a meeting of the Analytical Society and the Duke invited them to dinner at his estate afterward.
During a tour of the asylum, Maddy sees the Duke, who is chained in restraints (due to his violent behavior) and she has what the Quakers call an "Opening," believing she was sent there (by God) to help him. She speaks to him and treats him kindly and for the first time, he calms down. She seems to be the only one he responds to, (probably because she treats him like a human being) and she comes to the conclusion that he is not "mad" but "maddened." Against strong opposition, She requests to be his caretaker. She is the only person who has treated him like a human being rather than an animal and he immediately develops a strong attachment to her.
The book is a very emotional read, at times heartbreaking, but outstanding and very compelling. I must say it's not an easy read--the first 100 pages or so were downright painful to read (never cried at the BEGINNING of a book before), but it gets more optimistic after that. However, as the Duke slowly recovers, Maddy becomes more and more critical of him and his lifestyle, which goes against everything Quakers believe. I found Maddy's "holier than thou" attitude a little irritating, however. Maddy and Christian fall in love and Maddy is forced to choose between her religion and Christian. I love the characterization of Christian and his frustration with his life changing illness and struggle to recover.
Definitely a keeper and I'm very picky about what I keep. Even my husband wants to read it now after hearing me rave about it.
One of the best romances I've ever read. Seriously. Very different premise from the usual mamby-pamby feel-good stories. It's a non-stop roller-coaster ride from the first page to the last, a book so good that when reading it for the 5th time I found myself stopping at certain passages and thinking, "Wow, HOW did she write this??"
And the love scenes.... stunning, sexy, and wonderfully different. You won't see any cliches in this book. Christian's and Maddie's story is touching, amusing, heart-wrenching, and just about any other emotion you can imagine. You feel like you're right there through each scene experiencing everything the characters do.
Believe me, if you pick up no other Romance, you MUST read this one.
From the back of the book (which intrigued me enough to buy it, which rarely happens!)...
"He is London's most notorious rakehell--a charming, irresistible seducer possessing a brilliant mind and reckless passions. Until, in the wake of a shocking tragedy, he is condemned to a world of shadows...and madness.
An innocent beauty of modest birth and simple faith, once she feared the dashing nobleman who awakened within her feelings she had never known. Now she has come to free him from his solitary torment--never dreaming her warm, healing touch will etermally bind them together in need, in desire...and in love."
I always enjoy Laura Kinsale! I particularly like her heroes that are flawed. This partifcular hero is your typical womanizing rake until he has a stroke that affects his speech. Suddenly he's not so popular any more. He also develops a nasty temper in his frustration to communicate and his damaged pride in the man he has turned out to be. In comes a Quaker woman who thoroughly disapproves of his lifestyle. Two very unlikely people come together in a great romance. Especially good is the scene where, after she has left him, he comes into her church service and finally swallows his pride to tell her how he feels, in his halting and very difficult speech that will make you cry as he struggles to communicate his feelings. Ms. Kinsale always delivers the unique romance that touches on some of the more unspeakable elements of our human nature.
This book is the PERFECT example of the old cliche' "you can't judge a book by its cover". I was confused by the effusive praise for this story, thinking it just another dime store romance... judging by the cover. Never has that cliche hit home so strongly as when I started reading. Ms. Kinsale has taken an ordinary historical and completely turned it into a deep and riveting story with a richness seldom seen in this genre. In fact, I think the publishers have done a huge injustice to such a fine book by lumping it among the common. It is so VERY much more.
The main reason "Flowers" rises so far above is the subject matter itself. Kinsale has taken a young, prolific and unrepentant jaded rake and thrown him into the nightmare of experiencing a massive stroke, 19th century-style. She then adds a circumspect Quaker girl as his nurse and only hope for sanity or redemption in the asylum he is imprisoned in. The reader is led to see the horrific opinions and practices employed in that era before understanding, as we experience all the emotion, frustration and desperation felt through the eyes of this highly intelligent young man battling to re-learn how to think, talk and move again, all as the world labels him an imbecile and a lunatic.
We also experience the struggle of a young Quaker girl thrust into the rich and materialistic world of the aristocracy. Fighting to live her faith and keep her integrity as she unwillingly falls in love with this tortured Duke. The principles of honesty, frugality and total abstinence from carnal temptations seem totally nonexistent in the world she is thrust into.
Both stories are told with amazing compassion and unbelievable depth in understanding. Two subjects so common, yet so overlooked are addressed so well that I literally ached and cried along with the characters. Most important, I walked away from this story a much better person for having read it. THAT, my friends is a 5 star accomplishment in anyones book!
There are a couple of mildly steamy scenes, easily skipped if needed
This book was recommended in a "Top 10 All-Time Historical Romance" list that I found online. While I'm not sure if quite rates that, I will give the author credit for a very imaginative storyline. Others have described the plot, so I won't go into that. A very enjoyable weekend read for me.
This was my very first Kinsale book, and it will DEFINITELY be my last!! I hate to go against the flow, but to say I was not impressed with this book would be a slight understatement. I did like the idea and general plot line, but for me the hero and heroine totally ruined the book for me. She is one of the biggest prudes I have ever read about, and the hero is a bit of a wimp. No amount of great plot can hide the fact that the characterization was just horrible. I won't be reading any more books by her.
Oh, this book. Jervaulx, a witty and rakish duke is cut down by a stroke. He is unable to speak and left to linger in an asylum. Maddie Timms, whose father used to work with the Duke on mathematical papers, discovers him in the asylum and sets about teaching him to speak again. Very Byronesque, the inarticulate Duke raging against the constraints of the world.
Beauty and the Beast. The hero: a brilliant rake suddenly afflicted by stroke loses his speech and winds up in a brutal insane asylum. The heroine: a pious Quaker who has spent her entire life caring for the needs of others finds a man she recognizes in an asylum and takes up his cause.
Such an unusual story, at least the first half of it being mostly about this man's struggle to communicate - a mind that seems to think properly but can no longer process language - either taking it in or letting it out. In his frustration he is driven to violence. It seems maudlin, which it is, but it also slowly develops a relationship between these two wildly different people that wouldn't be believable without a slow start.
The story is so well researched and well written. The love story is paced brilliantly with just enough to keep things going. The love scenes are sparse but beautifully told, original, and sexy.
There is so much for this couple to overcome. He is a very unheroic character but has been set very low by his circumstances. She is such a bigot, in her Quakerly way. Their families, their circumstances, their background, even their religion is set to keep them apart. The story is a long arc of obstacles that they overcome to be together.
Such a beautiful book and story. A keeper for sure.
The reason I read this book was because of the extraordinary reviews that was given to this book. I was slightly disappointed by it. But I also really enjoyed it at the same time. Maddy is definitely one of the biggest prudes I have ever read and Christian is ....just one in a million(: Great storyline. OK characters. Took me longer than usual to get absorbed in this book but I can say this book is worth reading. As if its a keeper, I'm still contemplating on that.
It was an alright readable romance. I really couldn't figure out where all the great reviews came from though. It was a bit different from the norm with the hero getting struck down and needing some serious rescuing, but nothing completely new. The pious outcries from the heroine got a little old, we got it--perfectly modest religious Christian girl. But all in all, good. I probably wouldn't read again though. I think Diana Gabaldon has completely ruined me for this genre though because it's really tough to beat (or even come close) Jamie and Claire.
Would you like to convert someone who says romances aren't "real" novels? This book is the one that will do it! Flowers from the Storm is one of the best books in the genre. Christian Langland, Duke of Jerveaux is the ultimate hero. A brilliant mathematician and a complete rake, Christian is a man of contradictions. When a stroke leaves him permanently unable to speak, his family believes him to be mad and relegates him to a sanitarium. Fortunately, Maddy, a righteous Quaker and do- gooder, recognizes that Christian is not insane--he just can't talk! Maddy may not be the most likable heroine you'll encounter, but she has depth and character, and is probably one of the few people you could imagine who would have the patience and understanding to accept and live with Christian's intense anger and frustration. This is a book that defines the word "keeper."
The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant -- and dangerous.
Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most casual attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.
Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news -- the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked façade.
But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely -- and bind them together in need, desire ... and love.
This was a very enjoyable book. It's a little different from the normal romance in that the couple has some serious obstacles to overcome - not just petty class distinctions, etc. - though those are present too. Overall I thought the premise was very interesting and well executed.
After reading Lessons in French, in which "Callie tried to make a daydream for herself. It was what she always did when she could not quite bear what was real." it was a surprise to meet Maddy, the heroine of "Flowers from the Storm," as a very down to earth, practical member of the Society of Friends. As the major support for her blind father, Maddy helps him work mathematical conundra with the mathematical genius, but dissolute Duke of Jervaulx. Through the travails of Jervaulx's health and their different beliefs, Laura Kinsale pulls us through a variety of trials and into their growing love.
Beautiful--emotional--thrilling! I could not put it down for long. The duke whose difficult recovery from a stroke and a Quaker heroine is a new experience for me, and their unique and oftentimes frightening journey to freedom was simply riveting. My one irritation is with Maddy's inability to recognize Christian's seemingly spendthrift behaviors as desperate attempts to save them both, but other than that I loved it! 5 stars.
This is the best book I've read this year; it is very unique. The Duke of Jervaulx is a mathematical genius --- and a rakehell. He's a regular in the scandal sheets of London. However, he suddenly has a stroke and winds up in a lunatic asylum. His family wants to have him permanently committed and wrest away control of his inheritance.
Maddy Timms goes to work at a lunatic asylum that her cousin runs that is considered ahead of its time because lunatics are treated with kindness and respect. The Duke is considered to be out-of-control and is being punished. However, Maddy, who has met him before, realizes that the duke is frustrated and offended by his caretakers. Eventually, she takes over his daytime care in the asylum.
This is 550 pages of unrelieved pressures on an ill man who is trying to re-establish himself as a sane individual. This is an amazing story.
The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant - and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irrestible, and even his most casual attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms...
He is London's most notorious rakehell-a charming, irresistible seducer possessing a brilliant mind and reckless passions. Until, in the wake of a shocking tragedy, he is condemned to a world of shadows...and madness.
An innocent beauty of modest birth and simple faith, once she feared the dashing nobleman who awakened within her feelings she had never known. Now she has come to free him from his solitary torment-never dreaming her warm, healing touch will eternally bind them together in need, in desire...and in love.