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Roses Hardcover – January 6, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 639 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This enthralling stunner, a good old-fashioned read, may herald the overdue return of those delicious doorstop epics from such writers as Barbara Taylor Bradford and Colleen McCullough. Meacham's multigenerational family saga, set in East Texas circa 1914–1985, charts the transformation of Mary Toliver, a wide-eyed 16-year-old heiress, into a calculating cotton plantation queen as hardheaded as Scarlett O'Hara. Her brother, Miles, goes off to WWI, returns home, but then goes back to France to marry Marietta, a French Communist, leaving Mary to deal with their plantation, Somerset, and Darla, their alcoholic mother (who later hangs herself ). Many years later, Mary, now an elderly, terminally ill widow, resolves to defeat the Toliver Curse and regrets selling her soul for Somerset and giving up her true love, Percy Warwick, the father of their secret child, to marry their friend Ollie DuMont, who helped her save Somerset when Percy refused. Meacham uses three well-balanced viewpoints: Mary's, Percy's and Rachel's, Mary's great-niece, who must confront Percy when she discovers some disquieting family information after Mary dies. A refreshingly nostalgic bouquet of family angst, undying love and if onlys. (Jan.)
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From AudioFile

Coleen Marlo delivers an old-fashioned sprawling, multigenerational rags-to-riches tale with a healthy supply of steamy unrequited romance, all played out in the American heartland. Marlo is every bit a match for this material as she gives a strong performance that endows each character with personality and convincing emotions. She keeps the tension high, excelling in portraying Mary Toliver's relentless drive to save her family's plantation--to the detriment of all else--while also making clear what it's costing her to do so. By the time listeners reach Mary's granddaughter in the third generation, they will have a real feel for the ambiance and history of Texas. D.G. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 609 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (January 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446550000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446550000
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (639 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Spanning three generations and nearly a century, Leila Meacham's "Roses" is a throwback to epic storytelling in the vein of Edna Ferber, Margaret Mitchell, or Colleen McCullough. The book advertising, itself, makes the comparison to "The Thorn Birds" and those are pretty lofty expectations to set as McCollough's "The Thorn Birds" has endured as one of the most beloved romance sagas of its day. In truth, I don't think "Roses" is the next classic in that vein--but I do believe there is a lot to recommend this sprawling tale of forbidden love and family betrayal.

In a small East Texas town, three families of enormous wealth and power come to reside. The Tolivers are cotton tycoons, the Warwicks are lumber barons, and the DuMonts are retail magnates. The mutual respect formed between these elite families set up a social structure that will have long lasting repercussions through the generations for all their progeny. At the heart of "Roses" is Mary Toliver, a heroine we follow for 80 plus years. Stubborn and single-minded, Mary is a terrific and maddening character--epitomizing the strong-willed matriarch necessary for just such a tale. Her male counterpoint is Percy Warwick, a perfect foil and the love of Mary's life. Of course, these two are made for each other--and of course, they can never truly realize happiness in each other's arms. Their grand romance is played through the decades with enormous vigor, and their dance together is filled with small moments of joy but mostly great tragedy.

The first two-thirds of Meacham's tale is terrifically engaging. Fast paced and fun, I was whole-heartedly invested in the Mary and Percy story and all the subplots in the periphery.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am torn over where to begin with this review. The author had the makings of a great book here with a promising plot line and what could have been great characters. Unfortunately, especially in the first half of the book involving Mary and Percy, the characterizations are uneven and undeveloped, and the motivations and actions don't make sense. The second half of the book, involving Mary's granddaughter Rachel, is somewhat better in these regards, or maybe I just got used to the author's writing and filled in the blanks for myself. I was astounded to read that Ms. Meacham was a former English teacher, as her use of similes and metaphors is strained and off-putting, and her failure to correctly provide an antecedent for her many pronouns is rampant. Further, some of her sudden leaps in place and time can be pretty confusing, as they are indicated by nothing at all other than all of a sudden someone else is speaking or the action is taking place somewhere unrelated to what came immediately before. Maybe these missteps were present because I was reading an ARC, and they will be corrected in the final version of the book. I can only hope so, both for Ms. Meacham's sake and the sake of her future readers. A good editor would have been a godsend for this version that I received.

All that said, I was held by the storyline and the suspense until the last page, and I was never tempted to put the book down and not finish it. I think Ms. Meacham does capture the ambiance of small-town Texas (I grew up in a small town in West Texas myself) and it's entirely believable that there were two or three "ruling" families with immense wealth and property and also great respect from the town. She reveals the secrets of these families in a convincing manner and maintains plenty of suspense along the way.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I started it one snowy evening and had to stay up and finish. I was totally enthralled with Mary's life and what had happened to lead up to the opening moments in the first chapter. The book sets the stage for flashbacks and the is divided into three parts: Mary's Story, another main character's story (no spoilers from me!) and then the present when everything wraps up. Even though I knew how Mary's life had ended up, I was so captivated by her and the other characters that I kept hoping that she would make different decisions, change her life, etc. This book was a wonderful guilty pleasure....kind of like 'The Thorn Birds" lite.

I did think that the third section dragged a bit. Maybe because I was so wrapped up in the past and Mary's life, I did not care as much about her great-niece Rachel, or maybe I was just tired. But things started to seem a bit redundant, especially the symbolism of the red and white roses.

But all in all, I HIGHLY recommend this book!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the first book I have read by this author, and I loved every chapter!

It is a quite volumnous book though it turned out to be a quick, enjoyable read.

It tells a story of the history of the DuMont, the Tolliver and Warwick families, who started their empire in small town in Texas, and it spanned over a century. It detailed their tragedies, their conquests, their romances and their heartache. A lot of the book focused on each family's professions, and while I know nothing about farming, I truly enjoyed the information and came to understand it in a way I had never before imagined.

The author's descriptions of the characters, the time period, and overall her attention to detail just swept me away to a magical era in a way that was not cumbersome or boring, and I did not feel the need to skim or pass over this book at all. Instead, I savored every word. It had the feel of Gone With The Wind, in that it was an epic love story, yet bittersweet.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that likes a good old fashioned saga.
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