Mourning the loss of her husband and children in a car accident, Lillian Diamon visits the Rose House, a quiet cottage on the property of one of California’s Sonoma Valley vineyards. Years later, she’s drawn back to this place where she felt a touch of hope amid her anguish. While there, she sees a painting of her years earlier visit to the house covered in blooms in a local gallery. She sees her soul laid bare on the canvas. The artist is anonymous! And the painting’s not for sale. Oh, and she’s estranged from her sister, who was in the car during the accident but wasn’t killed. This is mostly what the book is about. Tacked on: Lillian constantly wondering if people are really, actually following her, or not?
In general, Lillian is a well-drawn character. Actually, all of the characters in Rose House are believably flawed, human. Also, the visuals are stunning — roses everywhere! The romantic relationship that blooms (did you like that?) is fun to watch.
In her brief visits to La Rosaleda (the town near the Rose House), Lillian is inexplicably befriended in about five seconds by more than one person who end up all being her bestest bosom buddies in another five seconds.
I felt that this book told instead of showed. It tries to do too much, I think. In addition, some more copy-editing is needed; some errors made their way through. Throughout, I was frustrated by the writing. For instance, awkward similes pulled me out of the story.
I’m not one who needs her books tied up in a bow, but this story left a lot of loose ends, so many factors left unresolved and unexplained. I felt like I was reading a sequel without reading the first book in the series — which apparently I was, but based on what I’ve seen, reading the first book in the series, Ruby among Us wouldn’t clear anything up, since the main characters in it are secondary characters in this one.
Tina Ann Forkner grew up in Colcord, Oklahoma, very near my former home of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. She now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming, where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.
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