Estrella and her four cousins have been told anyone they love too deeply will vanish, so what happens if they all fall for the same young woman?
McLemore’s latest original fairy tale follows the Nomeolvides (“Forget-Me-Not”) women, of implied Mexican descent: for generations, they’ve tended the gardens of La Pradera, a beautiful property set in an undisclosed location (and time period). Although they possess inexplicable abilities to grow flowers with their bare hands, Estrella, Azalea, Calla, Dalia, and Gloria pay a price for their magic. Their elders have warned them that if they love someone, he will eventually disappear. They must also never permanently leave the grounds, or they will die. When the cousins realize, to shared horror, that they are all in love with wonderful Bay Briar—heiress to La Pradera—they pray for her safety by scattering treasured offerings in the magical garden’s dark pond. The next day, Estrella discovers the garden has given something back: a mysterious Spanish-speaking young man, in century-old clothes, with nothing more than a half-ripped label spelling “FEL.” The women speculate that Fel, who can remember nothing about his past, is one of their predecessor’s missing lovers. As Estrella bonds with the sensitive and attentive Fel, she begins to question the rules governing the Nomeolvides women’s lives, the legendary curse keeping them tied to this garden, and the nature of love. A garden is the perfect setting for McLemore’s plush, sensuous prose, which unspools the story with delicious languor.
Part mystery, part love story, this evocative, lush novel is a delight for sophisticated readers. (Magical realism. 13-adult)