Author: Cassandra Golds
Genre: Historical, Fable, Magical Realism, Romance
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: August 2010
Paperback: 212 pages
Persimmon Polidori is a fine young lady, but within her is a rebel. She must follow her heart’s desire, even if it means her family will reject her for the choices she makes. These choices bring her adventure and a world she never knew existed – they also bring her loneliness…
Along the way, Persimmon undergoes the trials of love, heartbreak, doubt and the discovery of her own true value.
And she does it with the aid of a tiny, brave creature named Epiphany.
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): eBook (Kindle)
Why did I read this book: I came across this book when I was reading a post online about Aussie literature. When I posted about it, several of our readers said it was brilliant. It recently became available as an ebook and I bought as soon as I could.
At the vast, multi-levelled Botanical Gardens train station, people come and people go and every day, every hour, every minute their lives intersect for a moment, only to wander away the next.
This is the story of Persimmon Polidori, a young lady who was born into a family of strict, pragmatic vegetable-lovers. Her unpractical love for flowers led her family to shun her and now she is a lonely florist at the train station. She has a love for books, specially the one book that has been thoroughly butchered by a famous critic (therefore earning the scorn of everybody else) but which means the world to her.
Her best friend – and chaperone – is a talking ornamental cabbage (a vegetable and a flower at the same time!) named Rose but Persimmon can also count on her late clairvoyant great aunt’s letters written in the past, and yet about Persimmon’s future love life.
This is the story of Epiphany. A small mouse who lives at one of the lowest levels of the train stations and whose life so far has been one of drudgery. But Epiphany is a thinker – and in spite of it being really difficult to be a thinker when all you have are the six quiet minutes in between trains to be able to have clarity, Epiphany is certain that there is something ELSE above – and is prepared to do anything to find out. Even if it means going against the status quo.
This is the story of how Persimmon and Epiphany’s lives ran parallel only to intersect for one brief moment and wander away the next.
The Three Loves of Persimmon is a fable. A gloriously written one, beautifully realised and with a lot of food for thought and discussion.
Persimmon’s arc is ostensible about finding love and the story – as per the title – discloses her encounters with three men she falls in love with. But underlining that ostensible arc and equally important, is Persimmon’s journey to love herself and find worth in the things she loves and in who she truly is.
There is an incredible strand here of astute observations about societal norms and how they can impact one’s life that is seamlessly woven in the dual narrative of Persimmon and Epiphany. It is also there in the way each female character goes about taking charge and changing their lives. The beauty of this is how each character does that in different yet equally meaningful ways. Epiphany is the assertive, adventurous one whose life is altered in a more apparent manner with a move that is both physical but also intellectual. Persimmon is the quieter character whose change is more evidently internal.
That dichotomy is often superficial though and I can’t stress how well this little book makes it plain: what affects us internally can also affect how we interact with the world externally and vice-versa. At the end of the day, there is not one right way to live one’s life and this fable exemplifies the bravery it takes to give your whole heart to things – be them people, ideas, movements – even when things and people and movements and society do not love you back or expect anything from you.
I loved both Persimmon and Epiphany’s journey to find worth and meaning in their lives, beyond what society tell them is worthwhile. There is social critique as well as keen remarks of unfair gender expectations – and needless to say, it’s not an accident that both characters are female.
The Three Loves of Persimmon is fabulous: it excels in what it sets out to do as a fable (by effectively writing to the techniques of this specific literary narrative) and as an extraordinary account of two extraordinary characters. It’s lovely, sad at times but ultimately hopeful and uplifting.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: A favourite moment in the novel:
‘What is it that stops you?’ she asked after a moment. The young man smiled ruefully.
‘Fear of being misunderstood,’ he said. ‘Fear of ridicule. Fear that the most precious things I have will be destroyed.’ He stared solemnly into the distance, then added, ‘And fear of bad reviews. What is it that stops you?’
Persimmon opened her mouth. Then shut it. Then opened it again and said, with an air of wonder,
‘It’s not stopping me any more.’
The young man gazed at her. ‘I didn’t think so,’ he said.
Persimmon took a deep breath. ‘About love,’ she said. ‘In addition to loving everyone and everything, do you think that there is room for loving one person in particular?’
‘Oh, yes,’ he said. ‘Of course. If you get the chance.’
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
Buy the Book:
(click on the links to purchase)