- Paperback: 640 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0068ENVPI
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (657 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews
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. Galloping through the years, the ill-fated romance stays center stage even as both parties move off into new directions. I enjoyed the characters and even as they created a new generation, that still remained a part of the main story line. However, all good things must come to an end--and ultimately, for me, the book loses momentum for its final third. Concerning itself with Mary's potential heir, Rachel Toliver (the third generation and Mary's double in both spirit and dedication to the family business to the exclusion of everything else), the story lacks some of the pizzazz that it had previously showcased. Still a solid conclusion, it just didn't captivate me in the way Mary's story had--so there was a bit of a fizzle instead of a crescendo.
I really recommend "Roses" to fans of the genre. Ultimately, I'm probably not the book's intended audience but I like to dabble in soapy sagas every once in a while. And, I found most of "Roses" to be entertaining and involving. I genuinely cared for the characters of Mary and Percy, and if you're going to follow a family saga through the decades--that's got to be a positive!
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. My earlier comments about characterization refer primarily to the fact that the actions of the characters are not sufficiently explained by what we've come to know and understand about them. For example, Mary's willingness to accept the vagaries of fate and not fight for true love does not square with her stubbornness about holding on to Somerset regardless of the consequences. Also, Mary's realistic and straightforward approach to the farm and life in general doesn't lend much credence to her devastating actions taken because of belief in a family curse. Of course, people are complicated and do have blind spots, but somehow the most critical step Mary takes is never justified at all by anything we've come to know about her. And Rachel's final decision regarding her law suit is never explained at all. I've tried to avoid any spoilers in the preceding but I felt that I needed to justify my own statements by giving a few examples.
I also think some family genealogy charts would have been helpful to remember who's in what generation and their relation to the rest of the family.
I hope the final published version of this book will have taken care of all my misgivings, and with that in mind, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a multi-generational tale of passion, suspense, and tragedy.
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!