Sunday 14 October 2012

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

I've been home from the wonderful island of Paxos for just over a week, as always, after a holiday, I've found it really difficult to get back into reading.  I'm not sure why it happens, but it always does.  I've picked up and abandoned a couple of books since we arrived home and was beginning to despair.  I was really pleased to receive a copy of Rowan Coleman's tenth novel Dearest Rose this week and hoped that this would be the book to cure my reading malaise - sure enough it did!  Thank goodness!

Dearest Rose was published on 27 September 2012 by Arrow Books; an imprint from the Random House publishing group.  It's been quite a while since I've read anything by Rowan Coleman so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one.  The cover picture is nice but quite ambiguous and could, quite possibly, put some readers off.

"You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world.  I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you."
These are the words, written on the back of a well-worn postcard that Rose has cherished for many years.  These are the words that were in the back of her mind when she finally, after years of unhappiness, left her husband.   These are the words that Rose has based the rest of her life on, the words that have given her hope.

Dearest Rose is an intelligently written, captivating story of a woman who has never felt loved.  She is a daughter, a wife and a mother yet feels as though she is a nothing.  Every relationship throughout her life has been difficult, starting with her dysfunctional parents; the father who left when she was nine, the mother who committed suicide, the husband who controlled her and the daughter that lives in her own world.   Frasier; the man who wrote the words on the postcard is the only person who ever thought Rose was someone special.

I found the first half of the novel to be quite slow-moving, Rose and her daughter Maddie are introduced to the reader quite slowly, their characters are slowly built up, with snippets of their backgrounds adding bit by bit allowing us to understand why and how they came to be where they are today.   The second half the novel moves at a cracking pace, with the story unfolding and leading up to some quite traumatic and emotional scenes.  It really is a quite draining and emotional read at times, but it's also a very satisfying and fulfilling story.
Rowan Coleman

For me, the star of the novel is Maddie.  Rose's seven-year-old daughter is a strange little girl, and she knows it.  Intelligent and perceptive far beyond her years, she really shines throughout the novel.  Her vulnerability is exposed alongside her abrupt and quite direct manner.

A remarkably well written novel that I enjoyed reading very much and would recommend highly.

Rowan Coleman has a website here.   Her Facebook page is here, and you can follow her on Twitter here.

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