Book Review: The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

 

Persimmon lives a solitary life, pouring her passion into the florist shop she owns in the underground railway station. Her only companion is Rose, a talking cabbage. Intriguing young men come and go but Persimmon has yet to find the love of her life.

Several levels beneath Persimmon’s shop lives a mouse called Epiphany. Epiphany has a questing mind. She wants to know what lies beyond the dark tunnels of her home. As in all good fables, Persimmon and Epiphany are destined to meet. And when they do, life will never be the same again.

What a darling, joyous book! All throughout I kept asking ‘what does this remind me of?’ It came to me early this morning; it’s that first moment of joyful elation when you have been surprised by a gift or word or deed. That is exactly what The Three Loves of Persimmon was – a delightful kindness meant to be shared and enjoyed.

The story in it’s very basic form is one we all know and love: a quest for love, a journey to freedom. The story had a beautiful, timeless turn of the century Victorian feel to it without feel ‘dated’ or – the dreaded word to give to a teenager – ‘classic’. Part whimsy, part magic and part fable, The Three Loves of Persimmon is the tale of Persimmon, a florist shop owner, and Epiphany, an inquisitive little mouse. The reader tumbles into a world of talking vegetables and mice; father’s who live in crates; trees that grow through the earth and find themselves home in the loveliest flower shop there ever was; and tragic stories of love, loss and poverty.

‘That night, for the first time in her life, Persimmon wrote a poem. It was about love and loneliness and being left behind. It was about having nowhere to belong, and no one to belong to. It was about not feeling good enough. It was about saying goodbye.’

The story and characters feel as if they are packed with so much emotion, and heart, that their journey is one of immense proportions. And yet the setting never changes. We, and the characters, experience nearly all of this maelstrom of emotion on Platform One. For Persimmon her journey is one of emotional self-discovery; to realise she deserves and is worth love.

‘Then she added, more to herself than to him, “I have simply had the most extraordinary revelation.”

“And what is that?” he asked.

Persimmon gazed vaguely into the middle distance.

“I am worthwhile,” she said to herself earnestly.’

I was delighted by how appropriate and enjoyable the story was for any and all age groups despite the age of our protagonists – one of those timeless, ageless novels that can be enjoyed by all. It very much reminded me of the Toy Story movies in that regard; the familiarity and innocence of childhood for the younger readers, compared to the witty insights and dry humor for the older readers. The more comical scenes often came in the form of her dead (and clairvoyant) Great Aunt Lily, who was sending letters from the grave as it were:

‘Now about this loneliness. It is unfortunate that you were not blessed with a more congenial family, but there it is. And one must follow one’s vocation, you know, family or no family. I know all about that! The thing is, my dear, you have a Quest (as did I). You must set out to find a Love of your own. Then he will be your family, and (if I’m not mistaken) more family will follow. For a child who knows so much about flowers (and birds and bees and things, you know) you are surprisingly backward. Love again from beyond the grave, Your Great Aunt Lily.’

The Three Loves of Persimmon was an utter joy to read. Much like poor-dear-lovable-cabbage Rose, my feelings for the world and characters took root and flourished.

Highly (and lovingly) recommended.

Penguin Australia

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