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Publisher's Summary

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues - gravediggers, groundskeepers, and a priest - visit her to warm themselves in her lodge, where laughter, companionship, and occasional tears mix with the coffee she offers them. Her life is lived to the rhythms of their funny, moving confidences. 

But her routine is disrupted by the arrival of the local police chief, who insists on scattering the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Soon it becomes clear that his inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette’s own difficult past. 

With Fresh Water for Flowers, Valérie Perrin has given listeners an intimately told story that tugs on the heartstrings about a woman who believes obstinately in happiness, despite it all. A number-one best seller in France, it is a heartwarming and tender story that will stay with listeners long after they finish it.

©2020 Valérie Perrin (P)2021 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What listeners say about Fresh Water for Flowers

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great story, an appalling reading

How could so many mistakes be made in one reading? Valerie Perrin must be beside herself. All French names in this recording are deformed so much that a French speaker might have difficulty understanding the protagonists’ role and the story itself. It is shocking to hear such a poor rendering of French names and French languages.

5 people found this helpful

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Would not recommend

Although the story was somewhat interesting, it did jump around considerably.
My biggest problem was with the narration, the mispronunciations of French terminology when the story is set in France is unforgivable.

2 people found this helpful

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Great story, poor narration

If you are not familiar with the French language, you might find the narration acceptable. If you know French, you will find so many mispronunciations that listening to this book is like listening to 11 hours of chalk grating on a blackboard. Does no one at Dreamscape Productions know French? No one there to help this poor narrator master the simplest words rather than mispronounce them over and over? All the mistakes make the production seem sloppy.

The story is intriguing and the characters well developed. I recommend this book, but READ IT. DON’T listen to the audio book.

2 people found this helpful

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don't listen

Reviewers raved about this book. My friends loved it, so I slogged through it, but didn't like it at all. I''m guessing that the print version is wonderful, but this is one of those books that doesn't work at all in audio. There are too many characters, and long, convoluted sub-plots, and the narrator had no ability at all to create distinct voices. There were few clues in the text, so most of the time I had no idea which character was speaking. After 13 hours, I still didn't know who many of the characters were, and couldn't bring myself to care even a little about their story lines. That said, the main character is lovely, and I would have enjoyed just her story, which was well-developed and poignant. If I'd been reading it, I'm guessing the confusion about characters would have been minimal, and I could have skimmed through the long and often irrelevant parts.

2 people found this helpful

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Not compelling

I thought the premise was interesting based on the summary but the writing is too simple.

Also, if a reader is going to read in French, then pronunciation should be correct and it isn't here. For me, that is very irritating.

2 people found this helpful

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Attention narrators: research please!

Too much work went into the writing and translating of this novel to have it virtually destroyed by a narrator who could not make the effort to research the approximate pronunciation of French names, place names and objects. Normally, I would have returned such a misguided rendering but I really wanted to discuss the plot of the book with a friend. What could Dreamscape Publishing be thinking? A few egregious examples: the name of an important character, a woman named Francoise, is pronounced like the male name François. (Fran-swah as opposed to Frahn-swahz). The word "centimes" is incorrectly pronounce as if spelled "son-tymes". These are basic errors and the correct forms are easily found online with vocalized examples. It's very simple to search for the correct pronunciation of a foreign word. Place names: Nancy is once pronounced like the American girl's name and once pronounced "Non-see" which is correct. Inconsistent, easily resolvable mistakes made this book an arduous listen for me. If your eyes are fine, I recommend that you read the print version.

1 person found this helpful

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Enjoyed the pacing

I heard that this book is a bestseller in France so I decided to try it out. I really enjoyed the French setting and the pacing of this book. It felt very French to me, such a refreshing change from my usual American authors. I thought the narrator did an excellent job too, she kept me very engaged.

1 person found this helpful

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This is the first time I wish I had....

read the book. This story invited me to laugh and cry, like being on a roller coaster. Only the perrformance is not so good. There is difficulty distinguishing between the characters (which there are plenty of) in the performance. The French names of people add to the difficulty of listening to this translation (like Karen vs Keren). Maybe this would have been better with multiple performers. Be prepared for a struggle to keep things straight. I have developed a distaste for writers who begin chapters with snippets of poetry. Thanks, JK Rowling.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved this book!

This is a book that deserves a wider readership. Fresh Water for Flowers wasn’t even on my radar when it was chosen as the January book for my book club. It’s such a beautifully written story. You feel like you’re making a new friend and learning about her in pieces.

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a bittersweet story of life, death and rebirth

loved its meanders and gradual revealing of the truth. recommended for audible though itnwas somewhat strange that many words in French were pronounced as if anglicized (place names like Aix, Peugeot etc.) when the reader is perfectly competent in French....

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  • Katie Whitmore
  • 09-10-21

Good story but TERRIBLE TERRIBLE french accent

This is a really interesting story and very unusual. But please - why, when there are so many french names to speak, choose a narrator who has zero grasp of french pronunciation. If the story had t been so good I would have given up pretty early on. Would advise reading this book not listening to it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • helen
  • 11-08-21

Interesting story, appalling narration

As many others have said, why was this given to someone with no idea how to pronounce French? It really grated on me.
I contemplated abandoning it for the actual book but persevered to the end.
That’s said, the story is good and many of the characters interesting and well developed. I love the idea of being a cemetery keeper like Violette.
I would recommend and look forward to reading more by this author. I will not be listening to any more by this narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Isobel
  • 08-31-21

Very poor narration

Who on earth thought it was a good idea to give the narration of this book to someone with a grating voice and no idea of French pronunciation?.
I gave up on it after a few chapters when I just could not listen any more and have bought the print copy so that I can work out the exact places mentioned rather than the incomprehensible names given by the narrator.
I suspect I will enjoy the story much more by reading it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JT
  • 01-14-22

Read do not listen

The narrator reading is dreadful and totally spoilt the whole story. An American accent when it should be Juliet Binnoche. It makes Dick Van Dyke’s English in Mary Poppins seem perfect!

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  • Mrs Curzon Tussaud
  • 01-06-22

Awful narration.

This is an intensely French novel, and to me is completely ruined by an American voice narrating it. I have finally given up on it and will return it for a refund.
The website forces me to give a star for Performance, which I have done only to save others from listening to it.

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  • Felicity O'Neill
  • 12-18-21

Overall good but with very poor quality narration due to pronunciation by American of French

Really irritating narrator whose ignorant pronunciation of French really spoiled this story.. American accent kills the beauty of all things French. Then as the story went on and on (Too long)too many infidelities and affairs took away from the otherwise interesting and clever composition particularly in the settings ,locations and quirky jobs around which the main characters reside and work.

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  • Claire Toeman
  • 10-17-21

A tedious read

Too many convoluted storylines and characters … I didn’t care about any of them .. I gave it my best shot but gave up two thirds of the way in .

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Roly
  • 08-21-21

…books are bricks of experience- no regrets

A cemetery is an original setting to a story of interactions, love, multiple relationships and intriguing characters. Certainly the book is an opportunity to listen to a modern French novel in translation, describing an environment on an unfamiliar cultural and behavioural canvas, which I enjoyed.
One can view this all kindly and look at the emergence from tragedy and redemption for Violette; she certainly deserves it, or be more ruthless and describe a convoluted and contrived novel attempting to link up too many personalities and wonder that selfish and negative behavior is the origin of all misfortune.
Chapters are preceded by quotes from poetry, mostly of French origin, but I recognised some English; none however were referenced, and I would have preferred to have known.
The narrator is American, who’s pronunciation was sadly inconsistent with hard “t’s” for example, on basics like beret and Peugeot, and probably much more that I didn’t notice and although female voices were adequate, the men were overly alike and not fluent.

This was a random choice with no recommendation other than “new and available”. It wasn’t a best read but books are bricks of experience - no regrets.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-30-21

FUNERAL FLOWERS

I listened to this for a book club and will read it soon. The narrator is pretty good but some mis pronunciations irritated me. I found it a bit too long and detailed but an original story. Reminded me of ‘the time travellers wife’ at times.

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  • vicki hart
  • 09-26-21

Lovely story

I have to agree with many reviewers that the narration let it down… such a strong American accent and mispronounciation was distracting.