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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Camilla's Roses, Bernice McFadden's latest release, is told in three parts: the present day when Camilla's husband discovers a lump in her breast, a flashback to the haunting past that she would rather erase, and a return to present day to face reality and her future. Camilla's middle name is Rose and all the women on her maternal side share the same middle name honoring a one-of-a-kind rosebush that only prospers and blooms on her great-great grandmother's land in Southern Georgia despite being stolen and clipped many times over the years.
Camilla suffers from an identify crisis and abandoned her family ten years ago. However, after learning about her childhood, one can understand her self-imposed exodus. Raised in a house full of cousins by her maternal grandmother (Velma Rose) and great aunt (Maggie Rose), Camilla seldom saw her heroin-addicted parents (Audrey Rose and Leroy Brown) and when she did, the results of the visits were disappointing and heartbreaking. Her childhood experiences causes her to develop an identity crisis that leads to serious skin bleaching and lying - to her friends about her family situation and to herself which proves to be most damaging.
With her usual flair, McFadden cuts to the core of humanity and deals with raw pain, loss, and suffering. This book deals with a multitude of issues: breast cancer, the affects of drug addiction, abandonment, self-hate, infidelity, etc. Every character is fully developed with a rich history and strong role in the plot - making it a well told story. The subject matter is dark and harrowing, but there is a silver lining embedded between the lines -- despite the despair, like the rose bush planted so long ago, Camilla and her "Roses" are made with a strong constitution and we are left with a glimmer of hope that they will be all right.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2004
A comfortable lifestyle rocked by a not so routine doctor's visit forces Camilla Rose Boston to face a past she'd rather forget. A less than stellar lineage comes face-to-face with the present when Camilla Rose, a long time wannabe is diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
"Where are your people?" A simple question that requires a complex answer.
Family, hmmmph.
Velma Rose, the disillusioned maternal grandmother who raised her and is still smarting from the loss of her first love.
Maggie Rose, once simple and beautiful, now just simple.
Her grandfather, Chuck, married to Velma Rose, a lifetime of loving a shadow of a woman whose heart was buried years ago.
Audrey Rose Brown, her drug-addicted mother whose thoughts are anywhere but on the daughter she brought into the world.
Leroy Brown, a father by birthright only.
Now, a well-known advice columnist, Camilla Rose is living the life she carefully crafted in college. A successful husband, a house in the 'burbs, and Zola, her contribution to being fruitful and multiplying come crashing down with the force of a demolition ball.
Images from yesteryear provoke unsettling memories from one who has abandoned her family. But when the chips are down and despair takes up residence, Camilla wonders if sage advice passed down through the generations has any merit. "Family is precious, t'aint nothing greater, 'cept God."
"Camilla's Roses" by Bernice McFadden is a moving, motion picture skillfully compressed within the covers of a book. Expertly mingling the past with the present in a series of vignettes the reader comes to know Camilla Rose Boston through the roots that spawned her.
With her knack for right on the money descriptive prose, realistic and flawed characters, and the bittersweet side of the human condition, Ms. McFadden regales readers with yet another classic literary rendering.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2004
Because as time moves, you may find yourself standing on the doorstep of long forgotten memories, as was the case with Camilla Rose Brown. Still nursing the wounds of growing up ghetto and harboring all of its resentment, Camilla escapes, buries her Roses in a grave dug deep and covered in lies.
Camilla moves through life, perpetrating, wearing the fa?ade like a second skin and as life would have it, tragedy strikes causing a dejected Camilla to retreat into the world she'd forgotten, but it was where she once found love, unconditional and profound. Can she still find the love for her there with so much loathing and time gone by? Will Camilla find that the middle name Rose is more than just a name branded every girl child in her family through the generations? Could it be the strength behind the Rose women whom endured so much strife?
I became an immediate fan of Ms. McFadden?s with her debut, ?Sugar? and was thrilled with, ?This Bitter Earth.? I admire Ms. McFadden?s ability to weave a tale using less than one hundred thousand words. I didn?t find Camilla?s Roses as compelling as ?Sugar,? and its sequel but Ms. McFadden did breathe life into these larger than life characters with the same style and grace as with all other characters she?s penned. Nevertheless Ms. McFadden has another page turner with her lyrical and reflective prose in Camilla?s Roses and we lay witness as these bold characters face heart wrenching challenges, such as addiction, abandonment and self-hatred. I anxiously await her next release, ?The Salt Box.?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2004
Bernice has really done it again. In Camilla's Roses, there are several messages that lie within the pages..however, the one I'd like to speak to is the FACT that no matter, FAMILY is ever so important in our lives. Bernice is a grand storyteller that I have enjoyed since she kicked the door down in the literary arena with "Sugar". If you have NEVER read anything by Bernice, you must do so soon. Bernice thanks for bringing these characters (THE ROSES) to our lives, they live our memories, even after the last page in the book is turned.
Fan for LIFE,
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2004
I love Bernice L. McFadden's writing style and though the characters were interesting in Camilla's Roses I didn't feel a connection with Camilla because there was too much time spent on the other characters and this huge space before her story was picked up again. McFadden is a fantastic writer and I will continue to support her work.

***Read The Warmest December*** It's soulful and touches you to your heart. Peace, the chocolatesleuth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 14, 2005
In another amazing piece of work from this author, readers are drawn into the lives of the Rose women....beginning with sisters Velma and Maggie. Velma, the eldest, is the plain jane of the two; Maggie, although blessed with beauty, is definitely lacking in the brains department. The beautiful, naive Maggie is seduced by Velma's boyfriend Lloyd, and caught in the act. Velma is filled with anger and an incredible sense of betrayal; Maggie, of course is unaware of any wrongdoing ("but we were just loving, Velma, like the animals do"). Their father, however, meets with Lloyd and the decision is made that he will marry Maggie. Lloyed genuinely loves Maggie, and Maggie loves Lloyd (that's all she knows to do), and all is well (Velma moves on and marries someone of her own) until tragedy strikes...leaving Maggie widowed, scarred, forever mourning her beloved Lloyd and changing the course of their lives forever. Life finds Velma raising her children, with husband Chuck, and then raising her children's children, all the while struggling to make ends meet. Maggie lives with Velma also--forever mentally and physically scarred by a tragedy long ago. But Velma's biggest cross to bear throughout this tale is Audrey Rose--beloved child who grows up to love a monster, court the "white lady" and all of the evils that accompany that addiction, and abandon her child--the lovely Camilla Rose. Raised by her grandparents, like the rest of her cousins, Camilla grows up viewing her blackness as a cross to bear...and associates that with everything negative in her life; poverty, her mother's heroin addiction, sickness, joblessness and the like. Subconsciously, Camilla's goal is to leave it all behind....she leaves for college, concocts a fictitious past, lightens her skin, and abandons her family. She marries light, has a child, and almost manages to leave it all behind...until she is confronted with a family legacy that may seek to claim her life.

Wonderfully constructed, Ms. McFadden's work flows much like poetry. Her manipulation of the written word is incredibly visual...truly a beautiful work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2005
I'm a fan of Bernice L. McFadden. I have truely enjoyed reading all of her books. Her style of writing is unique. This book was a quick-read but not a true page-turner to me. I feel like there was something missing...I dont know what it is but when I read the last page, I said to myself "that's it?". This book is a good but but far from being one of her best books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2012
Character after character in Camilla's Roses by BERNICE L. MCFADDEN made a memory in my heart and mind. From the beginning I was touched by Maggie. Throughout the novel Maggie would touch me in a special way. She was considered simple minded. I find it's those who are thought of as less than sensible who have the most love to give to other people. In the novel the ladies in the family have the characteristics of a rose. It's so fitting that their middle name is Rose. So you have Maggie Rose, Velma Rose and Camilla Rose. Maggie wasn't the only character who touched my heart. I was touched by each woman in a different way. As for the men, Camilla's husband is the most honest. Yes, he's flawed but again, he didn't know how to handle what life served him unexpectedly. Perhaps, my favor. Not knowing how to ease their emotional sorrows they chose ways that brought them more harm in the end. Leroy Brown and Audrey really touched me.

At this very moment I can see Audrey riding Camilla's bike up and down the street trying to catch a bit of her childhood again because adult life isn't as free and wonderful as childhood. Childhood is that special time when we really believe gumdrops might grow on trees. There is also Retha, the great aunt in the family who bares her deepest scas in order to help Camilla understand what life has brought her way. Each woman gives and gives and gives. Each woman falters, but who doesn't fall down as we learn to walk through life. Velma is the true matriarch. Every child becomes her child to feed, to scold, to love and to give a bed to sleep in each night. She is the kind of person whose bark is bigger than her bite. She wouldn't hurt a butterfly.

Then, there is Camilla. Camilla will bare the pain of genetics in her life. What comes to one person in a family will at some point come again to another person in the family tree due to no fault of their making. Camilla is brave. Can we ever go home again? For me Camilla answered that question. The novel is filled to the brim and running over with love between a man and a woman and sometimes love between those whom we don't expect to love one another in life. Overall the novel is about the mystery of life. We don't know where we will walk until we've walked that path. In other words the past is all that is known. Sometimes it isn't grasped fully. The present is happiness mixed with a struggle. Sadly, for some people today brings no happiness at all. It is all hurt. Tomorrow is a well spiced cooked stew of not knowing anything until it arrives on our doorstep. In the long run children, men and women are all survivors grateful to have a planet on which to live out the acts and scenes of their particular play.bernicemcfadden,Thank you Ms. Bernice L. McFadden for making this play seem so real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2004
The stark realities of life are often mind-boggling and overwhelming for many. Some people can handle them and some can't. Those who can't tend to cover it up or ignore their life. In CAMILLA'S ROSES, we meet Camilla and Bryant Boston. During a Tuesday afternoon tryst, Bryant discovers a lump in Camilla's breast-a discovery that will change their lives forever. Camilla is immediately consumed with fear and impending doom that her husband doesn't seem to comprehend. As she considers all the possibilities of her fate, she thinks back to her past and starts to panic about the things that Bryant has yet to find out. These things have become her silent torment.

Camilla Rose, as she was called during her childhood years, grew up surrounded by love, but in a very frenzied household. That home is haven to myths, half-truths and secret fears as she grew to adulthood. She and her grandparents watch her mother and father succumb to a drug-addicted lifestyle. She witnesses the comings and goings of other family members who at times live in the very cramped quarters. So when she receives an opportunity to escape, Camilla leaves the home and tries to erase all vestiges of her former life and race. The cancer and a self-absorbed husband, pushes her to do what she never envisioned doing again.

Bernice McFadden has shaped yet another great piece of fiction that looks into the very soul of human suffering and produced a very stirring and thought-provoking account for readers to explore. The depth of the characters was outstanding, as they seemed to come alive within the pages of this novel and then took root within my heart as I experienced their trials and tribulations. McFadden covers a myriad of issues in this book to include the legends and feelings associated with breast cancer; being black and trying to look white; the effects of infidelity; and the power of the family unit. This is an excellent book and kudos to Ms. McFadden for another job well done.

Reviewed by Brenda M. Lisbon
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2009
You know I actually found this book at the dollar store. That was surprising considering that the book was pretty good. I liked the story line, and I thought that characters developed extremely well. There were some things that bothered me. It seemed that McFadden was being a little too didactic and "preachy" when in the end she made is seem like the family though flawed should be just simply accepted by Camilla. To me there were things that Camilla should have left behind, and many of these were things that plague the African-American community to this day. I didn't think that her answers were just in finding her roots. Also, I think the sister to the mother was obviously MR, but the author was trying to downplay as well as the depth of human emotion related to betrayal that runs so deep. Maybe if the work had not had such simplistic conclusions, and other themes hadn't been brushed over I would have enjoyed it more. Some things just made me angry. Maybe it's me and my stuff, I'on know.
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This Bitter Earth by Bernice L. McFadden (Paperback - December 31, 2002)

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Sugar: A Novel by Bernice L. McFadden (Paperback - January 2, 2001)

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Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden (Hardcover - January 31, 2012)

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