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Camilla's Roses Hardcover – April 22, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Camilla and her husband have successful careers and a beautiful young daughter. Then she discovers a lump in her breast and realizes too late that she has turned her back on the people whose support she needs the most. Generations of women in her family, moving from a southern small town to Queens, New York, have carried the middle name Rose, and some have carried a legacy of breast cancer. But Camilla has been estranged from her unruly family since she went to college, leaving behind a drug-addicted mother, a grandmother raising scads of abandoned grandchildren, and an addled great-aunt. Ashamed of her family and her race, she lightened her skin and adopted a false background. She is living a complete lie when tragedy strikes. McFadden, author of Sugar (2000) and This Bitter Earth (2002), will enrapture readers again as she moves between the past and the present and the perspectives of different characters to tell a story of family and reconciliation. Vanessa Bush
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Riveting. The Warmest December so nicely avoids sentimentality. -- Toni Morrison
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525947965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525947967
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,603,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mocha Girl VINE VOICE on June 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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