“Roses” by Leila Meacham reminds me of other dynastic family sagas spanning an entire century. Ms. Meacham, however, has written a book that is not tedious, but fast paced and full of passions, while far reaching. The novel traces the lives and lineage of East Texas tycoon Mary Toliver and lumber king Percy Warwick. Three generations suffer from their denial of their unabated love, and powerful secrets.
Howbutker, Texas, 1985. Mary Toliver DuMont sits with her old family friend and attorney, Amos Hines. He stares at Mary in shock. She has just changed her will. She has sold her vast farms and instead of leaving her beloved heritage to her great niece Rachel, she has left it all to Percy Warwick. Toliver Farms is no more. Mary plans to fly out to Lubbock, Texas in the morning to explain her actions to Rachel. For Mary herself has groomed Rachel to run the huge farm from Rachel’s childhood. Now she is not., She does not want Rachel to fall into Mary’s former life – claimed only by the Farm and its voracious and cruel needs. Mary is convinced Toliver Farms is a curse – her heritage has deprived her of a true life.
But before she can reach Rachel, she dies, leaving Amos to explain what he doesn’t understand himself. Rachel is enraged that she will not inherit the Farm.
At 16, Mary had sat in the law offices of Emmett Waithe. Her brother Miles and her mother Darla sat on either side of her. Her father has died, and it is the reading of his will. Mary wonders why she is even present. Her father had mortgaged the Toliver Farms to the hilt and their only hope to keep the land and their home is to bring in a profitable cotton crop. As Mary sits, stunned, Attorny Waithe reads the will. Mary’s father has left the entire plantation to Mary. In grief and rage, Miles and Darla disown Mary for her father’s choices. Mary is given the house, where Darla can reside until she dies.
So starts Mary’s claim to the true curse of the Toliver land. Her family divided, she mourns the loss of her father but has no time to grieve – she must save the plantation. Mary devotes her life to doing just that, eschewing her love for Percy Walker to marry someone else.
This panoramic drama proves evocative and lush. The plot is intricate and gives back as much as the reader can take. Each page reveals Mary’s courage and her love for her family. The final sacrifice she makes for her beloved great niece Rachel grabs us and keeps us reading. Stunning and original, “Roses” is a must read for 2010.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Book Review by Broad “A” – Ava
Roses is available for pre-order from Amazon.com for $14.99 or at your local bookseller for $24.99
Thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing this title for our book review as well as this giveaway. We were in no way paid or compensated for our opinions.
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