Leah Singer joins us again today as a guest reviewer. She is reviewing Margaret Dilloway’s new book, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns. I LOVED Margeret’s last book, How to be An American Housewife- review here. And, Margaret’s guest post here.
After reading Margaret Dilloway’s debut novel, I was already waiting for her second book to be released. And just like Housewife, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns does not disappoint.
Thirty-six-year-old Gal Garner lives a regimented life. Her job teaching biology and her struggle with kidney disease keep her toggling between the high school, the hospital, and her home on a strict schedule. Only at home, in her garden, does Gal come alive. It’s here that she experiments with Hulthemia roses, painstakingly cross-pollinating various specimens in the hopes of creating a brand-new variation of spectacular beauty.
Then one afternoon Gal’s teenaged niece Riley, the daughter of her estranged sister, arrives. Unannounced. Neither one of them will ever be the same.
Reasons Roses is Best of Show
There are several reasons I enjoyed Dilloway’s second novel. First, the story is very character driven. The reader gets to know Gal, Riley and several of the minor characters and easily sees them as “real people.” Dilloway does a great job of writing each character as an individual.
Second, the plot relied on great storytelling and the compelling characters. So often I read books that rely on hidden secrets and twists to keep the reader engaged. Dilloway is able to tell a simple story using the characters that kept me reading through the entire novel.
Finally, the fact that Roses is so different from Housewife is a good thing. It proves that Dilloway is an excellent storyteller and can develop unique characters and different plots easily.
“Breeding roses is not something I do for fun. Not solely for fun, anyway. It’s the kind of fun most people classify as “drudgery,” but then again, I’m not like most people.”
“An image comes into my head. My sister Becky and me, holding hands in our grandmother’s garden. Eating peaches dripping onto our dresses, making our faces sticky. My mother wiping us clean with a gentle scold. My grandfather presenting each of us with a small wooden car, whittled by his own hand. My eyes fill. Suddenly I miss my sister.”
“I sniff the bloom nearest me. This scent has also matured. Green apples, vanilla, and an undertone of cayenne. Like being in this spice aisle of the grocery store, holding an apple pie in your hands. Sweet, but not too sweet.”
“I guess most of all, I’ve figured out how to be a person. I mean, a real person. A person who messes stuff up, and fixes it. A person who keeps going. … Like you.”
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns will be released August 2, 2012 from Penguin Books.
Leah Singer is a San Diego writer who can’t get enough of reading, books and conversations with authors. Read more about Leah and her musings about family, books, cooking and creativity on her blog, Leah’s Thoughts.
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