Newsday’s Favorite Books 2007
Minnesota Book Award Winner
Midwest Booksellers’ Association Choice Award Honor Book

“The result is electric and alive, containing a fire her mother would surely recognize and a beauty her father would approve . . . . . Hampl’s honest examination of her own life makes “The Florist’s Daughter” a wonder of a memoir.”
New York Times Book Review
To read the entire review, click here.

“Patricia Hampl is the queen of memoir…Do the pieces Hampl gives us fit together to form a whole person? Yes! When will it end? Hopefully, never.”
The Los Angeles Times

“ . . . an intense gaze at ‘the spiral of wonder and wounds that accounts for the bravery of supposedly ordinary people in allegedly ordinary lives.’. . . What Hampl has so generously done is to treat her parents like fully imagined characters in a complex novel.”
Minneapolis StarTribune

“Hampl is that rare writer who refuses to sentimentalize even those she loves most…The tensions in this novelistic masterpiece gather stitch by stitch, one ordinary but riveting anecdote after another, interwoven with dry comedy.”

“If anyone can restore the memoir to glory, it’s Patricia Hampl…Read Hampl, and you’ll forget about Frey.”
Chicago Tribune

A “beautiful bouquet of a book”
Entertainment Weekly

“Addictive…quietly stunning…offers up profound truths…Hampl creates indelible portraits of these short-sighted, loving people.”

“In her new memoir, Hampl mulls over the notion of forgiveness while recalling her charismatic Czech father, her dying mother and the Midwestern childhood she never really left behind. Patricia Hampl’s memoir is set in St. Paul, Minnesota, a place where ordinary people live ‘faultlessly ordinary lives.’ It is this ingrained modesty of ambition that troubles the writer as she tries, at her mother’s deathbed, to pierce the deep freeze of her own emotions. A relentlessly middle-class enclave can be, as Hampl wryly notes, ‘a cozy setting for heartlessness.’ Her optimistic father, the purveyor of beautiful flowers who trusted that life was not only good but intrinsically elegant, and her judgmental, charismatic mother produced a daughter who kept longing to bolt from ‘Nowheresville,’ even as the sweet ‘sin of memory’ called her home. ‘In its cloudy wistfulness,’ she writes, ‘nostalgia fuels the spark of significance. My place. My people.”
O Magazine

“Hampl (Blue Arabesque; I Could Tell You Stories) begins her very personal memoir with one hand clutching her dying mother Mary’s hand, the other composing an obituary on a yellow tablet—an apt sendoff for an avid reader of biographies. As years of dutiful caretaking and a lifetime of daughterhood come to an end, Hampl reflects on her middle-class, mid- 20th century middle-American stock, the kind of people who “assume they’re unremarkable… even as they go down in licks of flame.” Since her Czech father, Stan, couldn’t afford college during the Depression, he made a livelihood as a florist. Hampl’s wary Irish mother, a library file clerk, endowed her with the “ traits of wordiness and archival passion.” Like Hampl, Mary was a kind of magic realist—a storyteller who, finding people and their actions ancillary, “could haunt an empty room with description as if readying it for trouble.” The memoir begins with the question of why, in spite of her black-sheep, wanderlust-hippie sensibilities, Hampl never left her hometown of St. Paul, Minn. In the end, the reason is clear. There was work to do, beyond daughterly duty: “Nothing is harder to grasp than a relentlessly modest life,” she writes. With her enchanting prose and transcendent vision, she is indeed a florist’s daughter—a purveyor of beauty—as well as a careful, tablet-wielding investigator, ever contemplative, measured and patient in her charge.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Hampl (English/Univ. of Minnesota; Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, 2006, etc.) has crafted an honest and loving tribute to her parents, who raised her in St. Paul, Minn., where she has remained virtually her entire life. Her father (the eponymous florist) and mother (a librarian) had different cultural histories. He was Czech; she, Irish. They worked hard, went to church, believed in truth, justice and the American way, did nothing the world would deem remarkable. And, Hampl says, “Nothing is harder to grasp than a relentlessly modest life.” Her writings about that life highlight difficult truths about both the author and her parents. (It was her mother, she says, who made Hampl realize the coldness of her own heart.) Hampl begins at the hospital bedside of her mother, who lay dying after a stroke. She holds her hand and tries, simultaneously, to take notes. Several times in the ensuing text she returns to this scene—the hand-holding, the death-watch—until no life remains in the room but her own. . . A memoir for memoirists to admire—with language that pierces.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review