January 6, 2010

Review of: Roses by Leila Meacham

Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town's founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been--not just for themselves but for their children, and children's children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.

I hope Ms Meacham does not dislike this comparison, but Roses reminds me of another southern plantation epic novel. They grew cotton on that Georgia plantation and they grow cotton on Somerset as well. There was a young headstrong girl who helped to run her daddy's plantation. I love Gone with the Wind; both the book and the movie. {edited 1/9/10: I'm not the only one making this comparison. USA Today thinks so too.}

I say this in no way to disparage Roses. As you will see below, I loved Roses (I gave it my Hyacinth Award). In Roses we follow, first, the story of Mary Toliver. Mary is a member of one of the founding families of Howbutker in East Texas. The other two families are the DuMonts and the Warwicks. Of the founding families two are from England. The other family, the DuMonts, are from New Orleans. Of the two English families on is descended from the House of York, the other from the House of Lancaster. Yes, the War of the Roses.

Mary Toliver lives and breathes her daddy's Somerset after his passing. There are some awful things that happen to poor Mary as a young woman. Her mother blames her for how Mary's father disposed of his assets in his will. Mary's brother sides with their mother though he has no interest in running the cotton plantation. Mary also has to watch her brother and his best friends, Ollie DuMont and Percy Warwick, go off to fight in World War I.

I toyed with the idea of adding "Mystery" to the list of genres that this fits into. Through a good portion of the book we are waiting to see what it is that Mary has done with Somerset in her will. At the very beginning Mary is 95 and visiting her lawyer. He attempts to talk her out of what it is that she has decided to do with the plantation.

So, set aside a few days and sink yourself into the world of the Tolivers, the Warwicks and the DuMonts. Once I started I had a hard time setting Roses down to take care of my family. =)

Challenges: None. I read Roses at the end of 2009 so any challenges it qualified for are done now.

Title: Roses
Author: Leila Meacham
ISBN: 9780446550000
Pages: 624
Published by: Grand Central Publishing (January 6, 2010)
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: (Hachette Book Group provided me with an Advance Reader Copy)
Grade: A+ What does this grade mean?

I'm adding Roses to my "Keeper" shelf. I'm hoping to be able to pickup a copy in the next few weeks. Roses by Leila Meacham is out today!

Other reviews:

Bermudaonion's Weblog


  1. I hadn't heard of this book until a few days ago, but now I hadve seen it in a few places! Have to say this sounds exactly like my kind of book!

    Thanks for the review.

  2. I have this one here to read. Love the cover!

  3. @Kristen: Isn't it pretty?! It takes on some greater significance as you read the book, too.


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