This week I read Roses by Leila Meacham. Was it ever an exhausting book! Most of the story is told in flashback. The reader knows the end result of the "love triangle" from the beginning of the book, so I was skeptical that I would like it knowing the outcome, but I loved it.
The saga spanning the twentieth century is about three prominent families in the East Texas town of Howbutker. Two of the founding families were direct descendants of the Lancasters and the Yorks, the same families who fought in the War of the Roses: The Warwicks descended from the Yorks (represented by the white rose) and the Tollivers descended from the Lancasters (represented by the red rose). Both families decided to grow both shades of roses in their gardens, and if either family wronged the other, a red rose would be offered to ask for forgiveness. If forgiveness is granted, a white rose is given back to the offending party. If no forgiveness is granted, then a pink rose is given. Talk about crossed purposes, but this story is full of them as well as heartbreak.
There is a curse on the Tolliver land, and it isn't the pesky boll weevil. Children die and hearts are broken. Mary Tolliver, the primary heir to the Somerset cotton plantation, decides that she will be the one to break the curse after she loses the most important people in her life. Rather than leave Somerset to her beloved great-niece, Rachel, she leaves it to Percy Warwick, the love of her life. Rachel is broken-hearted at her aunt's "betrayal." Rachel doesn't believe in curses, and she knows little of the Tolliver curse. But when tragedy strikes close to home, will she believe?
This book reminds me of Gone With the Wind and Pride and Prejudice. It's a classic love story filled with passion, loss, and finally, hope, in spite of Mary Tolliver and Percy Warwick's abominable behavior. Mary's misplaced love of Somerset and Percy's stubborn pride almost destroy everything of value to both families. But tragedy for one generation can transmute into triumph for future generations, and the impetus for the change came from the absolute most unexpected source imaginable.
So what have you been reading this week?
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