Saturday, 30 July 2011

Roses by Leila Meacham

****
A huge family epic, which starts when our heroine is ill, aged and sitting in her lawyers office! It sooo reminded me of the Barbara Taylor Bradford et al TV mini series my mum was addicted to years ago!!  Funnily enough, I've never managed to get beyond page 40 of any BTB novel, but I flounced through this in just over a day.
It tells the story of the three founding families of Howbutker in Texas; the Tolivers are cotton farmers, the DuMonts are upmarket shop owners and the Warwicks are timber merchants.  They have a long standing pact which involves sending red and white roses to seek and give forgiveness. (It's a major theme through the book, obviously with the title, but I never really thought it was necessary!) Anyway, in 1916, pretty but headstrong, sixteen year old Mary Toliver inherits Somerset from her father over her mother and elder brother.  Her family are understandably miffed and it goes downhill from there.  Mary gives her life and happiness to save the plantation and her decisions impact on future generations. 
Scaling several wars, many deaths and love affairs it is a fabulous holiday read, suspend your disbelief and just wallow in the whole saga and you'll love it! 
On a more picky note, I actually found myself disliking virtually every female character, (except Sassie) and saved my special vitriol for Rachel (boo, hiss!!) even when the author tried to redeem her! I thought the male protagonists where far more sympathetic, particularly Percy and I would have liked stronger characterisation of Ollie to avoid him simply being a plot device. It doesn't deserve the comparisons to Gone with the Wind that are used on the cover, either.
However, I still think it's a great beach read, even if the 600+ pages will be heavy in your suitcase!