Book Review: Roses by Leila Meacham
Leila Meacham's new novel, Roses, falls somewhere between Edna Ferber's Giant and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. This book is a multigenerational epic that takes place in a small Texas town and involves the three founding families - the DuMonts, the Tolivers and the Warwicks. The sons and daughters of these families are intermingled over a span of years and their stories lead to a climax that affects them all.
At the center of the story is Mary Toliver, a beautiful and intelligent woman. From her earliest days she is obsessed with the family farm called Somerset. No matter what happens to Mary, she can not give up the land. Over the course of her life, Somerset will be her greatest blessing and her greatest curse.
Mary is best friends with Percy Warwick and Ollie DuMont, and the two men are best friends with each other. Percy loves Mary but so does Ollie, so whoever she chooses, one of the men is going to be hurt. Percy is rich, handsome and adventurous, while Ollie is patient, kind and totally devoted to her. For these reasons, Mary's decision is not easy to come by.
In a strange introduction to the story, Meacham gives away a key plot event before her story even gets started. It doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the book, but it does put a damper on the interest of Mary's choices. If the book's story had been more linear, it might have been even more enjoyable.
The drawing point of the book is its sweeping plot. Meacham obviously planned an expansive story line, and it is that and more. The story never seems forced, and it tells its tale with all the i's dotted and the t's crossed. Over the course of the book you get to know the lives of Mary, Percy and Ollie in detail, and also the stories of those who are to follow.
Roses is the kind of book you can lose yourself in, from beginning to end. It is a romantic story as well as a drama. You learn the mistakes the heart can make and also the way lives are changed in the flash of an eye. During the course of the book, wars are fought and fortunes are made and lost. And always there is Mary's obsession with Somerset which determines the course of her life.
Word of mouth is spreading about Roses. People are telling each other and their book clubs etc what a good read it is. Just like Kathryn Stockett's The Help, this book is making a slow move up the best seller lists and will likely stay there for months to come. It is the kind of book you have been hoping would come along but really didn't expect.
Leila Meacham has come out of nowhere with this epic story and it is making its mark. People who just want a good read are grabbing this book and not letting go until they have devoured every page. So join the tide swell of enthusiastic supporters and get your own copy, and then read and enjoy for hour after hour.
Roses is published by Grand Central Publishing. It contains 609 pages and sells for $24.99.
Jackie K. Cooper