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The Florist's Daughter - Patricia Hampl According to the biographical info on the back flap of this book, this is Patricia Hampl's fifth memoir. I haven't read any of the others, and since this one left me quite underwhelmed, I'm not sure that I would.

A memoir doesn't absolutely require a narrative arc, but I think that a reader might find the presence of one more rewarding, and this book really doesn't have it. Patricia's presence at her mother's bedside on the night of her death is the framing device for her recollections of growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota in the mid-20th century, the Baby-Boom-era younger child and second-generation American daughter of a mixed-ethnicity Catholic couple. The differing worldviews of her parental cultures - Irish on her mother's side, Czech on her father's - and the Catholicism both figure prominently in her upbringing and how she learns to interact with the world. As a second/third-generation Catholic-raised daughter of mixed European ethnicity myself - in my case, Italian mother and Austro-Hungarian father - this was probably the aspect of her story that I related to most. My father still characterizes most people he meets by their ethnic origin, and stereotypes based on ethnicity were part of everyday life for us.

Patricia talks about both her parents very much from a daughter's perspective, as she lived out the old saying that "a daughter's a daughter all of her life." She ended up as primary caretaker for both her parents till they died, and despite all her dreams of escape into the Great World, still lives in St. Paul to this day.

The Book Club member who chose this thought that it was a mother-daughter memoir, so we didn't quite get what we expected from it. It's a well-written book, but I just didn't find it particularly engaging. It's relatively short, but I found it slow going, and her parents never really became vivid to me. Granted, she's writing about their essentially ordinary lives, and that's got to be a challenge.

I wish I'd liked this book more than I did, but it just didn't seem to have much to it, and that was pretty much the consensus among Book Club members.