“Last night I dreamt I was back in Nowhere again.”
The first line of The Book of Flora (47 North), the concluding book in Meg Elison’s Nowhere Trilogy, evokes Daphne DuMaurier’s beloved Rebecca. The reminder to that book comes both in the meter of the first line in both works (“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again”) but also in a ghostly poetry that haunts both books. Despite Elison’s almost show and tell insistence on her lack of formal education, she is a writer’s writer. Her voice is beautiful and lyrical; her plotting taut and muscular.
The first two books in the series, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (2016) and The Book of Etta (2017) take place — as does The Book of Flora — in a post-apocalyptic America at a time when women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and other human rights are all in question. The tone here — beautifully rendered — brings to mind two modern classics: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and P.D. James’ The Children of Men.
Like all of the very best speculative fiction, in The Book of Flora, the author brings into question even the most basic motivations of the core players in a well-created world where nothing is exactly what it seems.
All Flora wants is safety for her makeshift family, a task that becomes much more daunting than it seems, even when they appear to reach safety aboard a ship that appears to represent the best of everyone’s dreams for the future.
Readers who have been following this series won’t be disappointed in the conclusion Elison delivers. The Book of Flora is a challenging yet satisfying read. ◊