Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review: Dearest Rose

UK cover
By Becky Gulc

I’m a big fan of Rowan Coleman for several reasons. Firstly, she’s a fantastic and versatile writer penning both adult and children’s fiction. My first experience of her work was through reading The Happy Home for Broken Hearts a few years back which I just loved. When she revealed her ‘double life’ last year, that she was also writing Christmas novels as the highly acclaimed Scarlett Bailey, I couldn’t have been more pleased, as I also loved Married by Christmas. With this offering something a little lighter (but no less enjoyable) than Rowan’s books under her own name, I can’t wait to read ‘Scarlett’s’ latest Christmas novel.

I’m also a fan because she’s just so lovely and open with her readers and aspiring writers and this hasn’t waned one bit despite Rowan having young twins! So when I kept hearing fantastic things about Rowan’s novel Dearest Rose (this book has been shortlisted for and won various awards) I had to buy it. If I’m honest it’s very rare as a reviewer that I’ll actively buy a fiction book at the moment unless I REALLY want it, as we simply are lucky enough to be sent so many…so that’s just testament to the wonderful things I’d heard about this book. So what’s it all about?

‘'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.'
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?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

This book lived up to all the expectations I had of it: well written, moving, dark at times yet funny and very uplifting too. It's a fantastic achievement to get this balance just right for her regular readers, bearing in mind Rose is a survivor of domestic abuse.

The fact that when we join Rose and Maddie, they’re already making the move away from the abusive relationship, brings hope with it; we know Rose is determined and hopeful for the future. As a reader it was a great journey to go on with Rose, her (and Maddie’s) struggles to adapt to their new environment, the great characters joining them along the way, even dating again. Of course the back story is cleverly and appropriately presented to the reader as the story develops and yes the past eventually catches up with them. Without wanting to spoil anything, I’ll just say it was very believable and didn’t overpower the other lovely elements of the story, such as Rose’s difficult relationship with her father, which was perhaps my favourite aspect of the book.

US cover with new title
Whilst at the core of this story is a parent and child escaping an abusive relationship, please do not be put off by potentially thinking this sounds like a harrowing read, as it’s not. It’s handled so sensitively and in a positive manner that it just fits so well with what other people have called "the thinking person’s chick lit." There’s so much more to this story, not least finding out the reason for Rose wanting to come to Milthwaite in the beginning! Definitely a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend!

A final reason to love Rowan? Following the research she did for Dearest Rose, meeting real life survivors of domestic abuse, she has now released a novella entitled Woman Walks into a Bar, of which 100% of royalties are going to Refuge, a UK charity supporting those experiencing domestic violence. If you haven’t read any of Rowan’s work yet why not start with this e-book and help a fantastic cause at the same time?

Note: Dearest Rose has been published in the US as The Runaway Wife.

More by Rowan Coleman:


pascale said...

Thanks for the review, but you might want to spell it out that Dearest Rose is the UK title and The Runaway Wife if the US title.

I read review twice and did not get that.... maybe I am too tired?

Melissa said...

Done. Thanks!