Roses is an engrossing family saga that spans the twentieth century that I literally found myself unable to put down. The Toliver, Warwick, and DuMont families are the three founding families of Howbutker, Texas in the 1800s. The Tolivers are cotton farmers, the Warwicks are timber giants, and the DuMonts are clothing department store magnates.
The novel starts in 1985. Mary Toliver DuMont is dying and decides to change her will at the last minute so that future generations will avoid the “Toliver curse.” These changes have lasting repercussions with her family and friends. The novel then switches to her girlhood in the early twentieth century to answer the mystery of what the curse encompasses. The second part of the novel is Percy Warwick’s story, and the third part of the novel is set back in 1985 with Mary’s Great-Niece Rachel’s story. I won’t get too much more into a plot summary here as I don’t want to ruin the novel for anyone!! Let’s just say there is a mystery, a great passion, and a lot of tragedy.
The Tolivers and Warwicks are descendants of the Lancasters and the Yorks, feuding houses during the War of the Roses. I love reading about the War of the Roses, so this was an added bonus when I read this novel. I love how the tradition of the families is to give a red rose when asking for forgiveness, a white rose when granting forgiveness, and a pink rose if all is not forgiven. The symbolism of it was striking through the generations.
I love family sagas and I loved this novel. I couldn’t stop reading it as I wanted to know what would happen next. It was a multi-generational soap opera that I thoroughly enjoyed. I really liked all of the characters (well except for Mary’s Mom . . . what a drama queen!). A couple characters that I found one-dimensional redeemed themselves and took on new dimensions by the novels end (Lucy). I really enjoyed the character growth and development. I also loved how Mary reminded me strongly of Scarlett O'Hara and Percy Warwick reminded me of Rhett Butler, two of my favorite literary characters.
Overall I enjoyed thinking about how families go all crazy when someone dies and there is money to be had. It all could go so differently if one realizes that the rich relative has a free mind and can do whatever they would like with the money. When you grow bitter from expectations and disappointments, it’s a rather sad way to spend life.
SPOILER ALERT. The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was Mary’s rushed wedding. Why didn’t she wait for her true love? I know the times were different, but I was aggravated at this scene. I almost needed a bit more of Mary’s thought process.
This book will be published on January 6, 2010.
Book Source: Advance Reading Copy from Miriam at Hachette Book Group. Thank-you!