How Flora Finds her Fabulous holds a promise in the title itself – fabulous! – and wow, does it deliver. Funny and entertaining, Stella Stonestreet’s book takes us for a wild ride across the world.
1970, Coventry. Flora’s never felt popular, pretty or clever. Even with the age gap and his unfortunate limp, Jonny M is the only offer she’s had.
The reality of John settles like dust on the mismatched furniture. She must stick to his housework rota, his meal plan and stick to a budget. There’s no room for ‘chitter-chatter’ or ‘women’s nonsense’.
When Flora’s miserable marriage comes to a shocking end she has few life skills, no friends and a serious Jelly Babies habit . With no other plans, she decides to complete the ‘to-do’ list her controlling husband had only ever dreamed of – a global adventure of lottery-winning proportions.
Accompanied by her new friend Marty, she’s soon hurtling through a snow-sculpted wonderland, scuba diving in Belize and dancing tango in Argentina.
With Marty giving her a makeover and a few hunter–flirting tips, she begins dating. It’s a bumpy road, littered with tears and a trampled heart, but finally, she meets her prince.
When everything goes catastrophically wrong, she’s stranded in South America with no passport or money. How will she find her way home, let alone find her fabulous and finally become the person she was always meant to be?
Women fiction, humor, comedy
I browsed the Woman Lit category of Reedsy for a month or so before downloading a book, for many reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to familiarize myself with the site–nobody likes newbies blundering all over the place–and then I was looking for something with a certain je ne sais quoi.
Does How Flora Finds her Fabulous have it? Yes.
It starts out slow, befitting the lethargic life at Coventry, then it picks up speed, like a car going 100 mph. Her unstoppable yet very fashion-oriented force is bound to meet an unmovable object at some point, and when it happens, Flora’s life falls apart. All alone in Rio, penniless and knowing just a handful of words in Portoguese, it’s either sinking or swimming, growing up and fighting the sharks or giving up and getting eaten. It might sound simple–survival is a biological imperative, after all–but it is not.
What I really like about How Flora Finds her Fabulous is the character growth. There is a good dose of naivety in her, which starts manifesting well before the story starts. Meeting Marty, deciding to embark on a journey around the world, just enables it further; hitting rock bottom is the equivalent of a switch being turned on. She takes her life in her own hands then, and you can’t help but cheer at her newfound assertiveness. The money belt and, later on, The Bloom Agency, are a prime example of it.
I have to admit I don’t agree with some decisions Flora makes throughout the book, but I’m not saying this in a disparaging way, like, ‘bof, what was Stonestreet thinking?’. I’m saying this as an ‘uh, omg, I would never have done X, and I really want to see how Stonestreet is going to fix it now.’ It’s a testimony of a good writer, at least in my opinion, keeping the reader hooked despite them disagreeing with This or That Choice.
Last but not least, I want to mention Stonestreet’s style, always upbeat and riveting. The only flaw of How Flora Finds her Fabulous would be a couple of grammar imperfections here and there, but it’s a minor issue and doesn’t really distract from the plot. All in all, a delightful read.
4 stars on GR, well-deserved.