I found Pansies to be a bit quiet, closer to Waiting for the Flood than to the rest of the Spires universe, but it still touched me deeply and made me feel a myriad of emotions, though I expected no less from this author.
This has become my favourite contemporary by Alexis Hall; and really, I can’t believe I’m saying this after having read Looking for Group. But Fen and Alfie are just one of the best couples I’ve read by him and their story will stay with me for a long time.
This is a story about grief, with Fen mourning his mother and Alfie mourning the perfect life he thought he would have, that turned out not to be that perfect after all. But most importantly, it’s a story about love and new beginnings: the love Fen shared with his mother that he’s keeping alive through Pansies, the love Alfie has for the small town he grew up in, and the love they find on each other.
I’ll be honest: I was a bit scared when I realised the story dealt with past bullying – I’ve been bullied before and those scars are resilient – but I think the author treated it with a lot of respect and a beautiful resolution. I loved seeing Aflie’s thought processes, his apology to Fen, Fen’s hurt and forgiveness; it made me cry, and smile, and made my heart beat faster.
I think the key for this book was the balance it achieved. There were sad moments, moments that made me cry, there were funny moments too, that made me laugh out loud (trust me, you’ll want to read the DIY scene), and there were the moments that made me smile and made my heart beat faster. And those moments were the ones that made me fall in love with Alfie and Fen, and with their story.
If you’ve liked Alexis’ works before, give this one a chance. If you’ve never read any of his works, start on this one, you won’t regret it.