24 September 2012
Book Review: Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman
When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.
Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?"
I'm a big Rowan Coleman fan, and eagerly look forward to all of her books as she has a way of story-telling that pulls you in, and despite the perfect bright and happy looking covers, there's always a deep and meaningful story inside that I love. Her 2011 release, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud was an emotional and powerful book, and even a year later I can remember everything about that book. I was hoping that Dearest Rose was going to be another of those amazing books, and I quite like the cover - it seems to match the description on the back of the book, and doesn't look too shiny or sparkly which would be a bit misleading. Having read it, I can definitely say it's an amazing book, one of my reads of the year, and here's why you have to read Dearest Rose.
Rose Pritchard, in the middle of the night, decides enough is enough and flees her family home with daughter Maddie in tow, and ends up in a B&B in Cumbria, banging on the door and begging to be given a bed to sleep in. Rose won't tell anyone why she has ended up in Millthwaite, but it's clear she is hiding a painful past, and her young daughter is suffering too. Rose doesn't expect to bump into someone from her past, someone she thought she'd left behind a long time ago and is thrown off course when he reappears in her life. Rose struggles to handle the reappearance, as well as dealing with the aftermath of what happened to her back at her home, and soon things start to unravel for Rose. Will an old friend prove to be Rose's saviour and help sort out all her worries?
You don't quite grasp from the beginning of the book what a rollercoaster of emotions this book is going to be. It begins with Rose and Maddie arriving on the doorstep of B&B owner Jean and Brian not disclosing anything that's gone on, and as a reader, it's left to our imagination to think about what has happened to make Rose flee. I have to say I did guess Rose's secret, but that didn't stop it being any more powerful when, piece by piece, it's revealed to us as Rose discloses her secret past and what happened that night. It's not an easy read regarding this part of the book, with some descriptions and narratives that aren't nice to imagine in your mind but it really sets the scene for this character and her state of mind. I have to say I don't envy Coleman for the research she must have put in to this book, but it reads extremely realistically and it's awful to think this happens on an all-too-often basis.
The characters are so well-written in the book, and I enjoyed reading all about them during the book. However, it isn't just the characters that made this book for me, it's the various relationships in the book that really stood out, in particular that of Rose and John. You can feel the awkwardness, the pain and the regret as you're reading, and I so wanted these two characters to work it out, and as their story progressed, I was drawn more and more emotionally into it. Rose is a damaged character, and you can really like her because you know she deserves all the happiness she can get after her past, and I was willing her to be a strong woman as the book went on. Coleman writes the young girl Maddie so easily, makes her believable if a little cheeky and doesn't shy away from showing the effects of what happened to Rose on the young girl. Fraiser was my favourite male character, a likeable male and the perfect friend to Rose, he almost seemed too perfect at times! Together, they create a fantastic cast, small but perfectly formed and you can become totally invested in them.
Dearest Rose is one of those books which you know is going to stay with you long after reading it, even after just a few pages. I loved every page of it, despite it's somewhat horrible main subject matter, simply because Coleman has crafted it so well and made Rose, Maddie and co so likeable. It is a book that makes you think, that makes you wonder why women tolerate the things that they do for the men that they love, and the storyline involving Rose's friend is shocking, just when you think you can't take anymore emotion in the book, Coleman hits you with another load from another direction. An emotional, moving and utterly brilliant book, I loved it and didn't want it to end. It's my favourite Coleman novel to date, she seems to get better and better with each book, and I really cannot wait for her next. Simply outstanding - one of my books of the year without a shadow of a doubt.
You can pre-order/buy Dearest Rose as a paperback or an eBook now.