With The Age of Water Lilies, Theresa Kishkan has written a beautiful novel that travels from the time of colonial wars to the pacifist movement to 1960s Victoria, and shares a unique and delightful relationship between 70-year-old Flora and 7-year-old Tessa.
When Flora Oakden leaves her English home in 1912 for the fledgling community of Walhachin in British Columbia’s interior, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with the dry sage-scented benchlands above the Thompson River-and with the charismatic labourer who is working in the orchard. When he and all the men of Walhachin return to Europe and the battlefields of France, Flora remains behind, pregnant and unmarried. Shunned by those remaining in the settlement, she travels west to Victoria and meets freethinker Ann Ogilvie, who provides shelter for her in a house overlooking the Ross Bay Cemetery. Fifty years later, among the headstones of Ross Bay, curious young Tessa is mapping her own personal domain when her life becomes interwoven with that of her neighbour, the now-elderly Flora. Out of their friendship, a larger world opens up for these unlikely companions. Theresa has written a sweeping story that transcends time and springs from a passionate exploration of the natural world, its weather, seasons and plants.