All the Yellow Posies, by Elaine DeBohun
Independently Published, 8572925623, 367 pages, April 2021

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love being immersed in the cultural norms of a time before, as I find there’s a certain romance that the modern world seems to lack. All the Yellow Posies by Elaine DeBohun is set in the time frame between World Wars, which often feels overlooked despite it being filled with movements such as prohibition and women’s suffrage. This romantic novel tells the tale of how love can guide the way beyond both time and space, perfectly intertwining those who are inevitably linked by destiny.

Main character Lou, an aspiring journalist and young woman determined to make her own way in the world despite her wealthy family’s desires for her life, leaves home following the last outbreak of the 1918 influenza to return to her college town of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Immediately she finds a room to rent by a kindly gentleman Mr. Thompson, who runs a successful tailoring business, where his children Holden and Madeline also work. He has two other sons: the youngest Jamie, who is in medical school, and the oldest Dane, who is an artist living in Europe.

Lou quickly feels at home among the Thompson family, who take her in as one of their own. She lands a job as the secretary of their family business and settles into her new life quite nicely. Right off the bat, Holden catches her eye with his charisma and provocative antics. Though he is married, they develop a close kinship based on their love of literature and writing aspirations.

Lou becomes a source of solace for Holden, who is struggling with shell-shock from his service in World War I and having difficulty transitioning back to civilian life. Consistently drinking his prescribed alcohol, Holden’s behavior can be erratic and extreme, with moods rapidly shifting due to his deep thinking and emotional intensity. Let’s just say, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion for Lou who realizes a romance with Holden requires courage and a willingness to embrace the unknown.

Unforeseen circumstances completely shift Lou’s life upside down though, and soon Lou finds herself in Paris, France. I hesitate to go much more into the plot at this point though, or I might risk revealing a spoiler alert. Let’s just say, in her path to make meaning of her life and pursue her ambitions as a writer, she comes to realize she must follow the signs beckoning her in this new direction.

One interesting part of the book is when Lou visits a Romani gypsy and has a tarot card reading. The gypsy gifts Lou with a tarot deck, which she uses quite often for insight. Just like common belief that symbols such as feathers and pennies indicate a message from a passed loved one, Lou comes to make a connection with bluebirds that appear when she is on the right path. Ultimately, Lou’s grief and pain lead to her ultimate happiness as she embraces the mysterious path being laid out before her.

There is a wholesome quality to All the Yellow Posies. It is sentimental and romantic in an old-fashioned way where men knew what it meant to be gentlemen. Nevertheless, the women characters are strong, independent, and keen on pursuing their paths.

I especially enjoyed the relationship between Lou and character Bette, who many authors might pose as enemies, but DeBohun decides to portray as mature women, capable of acknowledging their shared bond of love. I felt like I was wrapped up in the Thompson family, sharing their joys and losses right along with them.

I will admit delving into Holden’s character, filled with what would now be considered post-traumatic stress from the aristocracies he witnessed during his time on the battlefield, was tough at points. My heart definitely broke at times as I was brought to tears by the story’s events. All the Yellow Posies certainly isn’t a fluffy read, and it invites the reader to truly move through a whole range of human emotion.

DeBohun does a wonderful job of tackling the tough emotions with intimate delicacy, showcasing her own emotional depth and talent as a writer. By the end, all of the characters have moved through loss, sorrow, and anguish to become a better version of themselves. There is a higher power in this story, but it is not religious or even very spiritual, it is love that guides the way making it universally relatable.

I recommend All the Yellow Posies to those seeking a heartfelt read. The dynamic interplay of emotions beautifully plays out within the containment of one family and their close relationships. All the characters make an impression on the heart, which I know will still be with me for a time to come. Plus, the time period and unique culture of both America and Europe during this time is very interesting to be immersed within.