Sunday, July 21, 2013
"The Rose of Winslow Street" by Elizabeth Camden - beautiful all around
What do you do when opposing sides of an issue are both in the right?
What do you do when neither side does what is right?
From the cover to the end of the story, Elizabeth Camden's The Rose of Winslow Street is a gorgeous novel, and no run-of-the-mill romance. Liberty Sawyer and her professor father are called back from vacation upon a "horde of gypsies" taking over their house. Displaced from their home, they fight to get back the house that they have lived in for more than twenty years, while Romanians Michael Dobrescu and his family fights to hold onto the house which they inherited from the previous owner. The town is behind the Sawyers, but the law is forced to uphold the Dobrescus.
It is a book full of contradictions. A strapping, warrior of a man, Michael has spent much of his life fighting in the wars against one oppressor or another, but his passion is raising flowers and making perfumes. Mirela, a duke's daughter, is wearing secondhand dresses, while the wife of a middle class banker is sporting expensive jewels and suddenly seems to own a fortune. An inventor never completes an invention to his satisfaction, and thus never patents a one, and Libby, the daughter of a professor, cannot even read.
Despite the fact that they are officially enemies and in defiance of the hardness of the hearts of the "good christian people" of Colden, Massachusetts, Libby reaches out to the ostracized Dobrescus, forging a close friendship with Michael and a love for his sons. They still remain opposed as to who should have the house - after all, Libby was raised there and her father put years of work into it, and Michael inherited it from his uncle and it is the only safe haven for him and his family - but in spite of that, they respect each other's opinion and do not let it seriously interfere with their relationship.
I never could decide which party should have the house, since both are in the right, but both sides do ample wrong. It is certainly wrong of Michael to just waltz in and take the house by force, and he does not improve matters by destroying all the local roses, but neither is it right to deny a family - especially one with young children - such basic necessities as food! No one else makes an effort to know the Dobrescus, and yet they are perfectly happy to trash-talk them and boot them out in a storm.
Overall, I was impressed by the novelty of this book, as the plot is quite different from many historical romances. Largely it is a romance, but with a wee bit of suspense, a wee bit of mystery, and superbly vibrant characters that one can hurt for, hope for, pity, despise, and love. 5 out of 5 stars!