The story called Roses, by Leila Meacham, is about two people who are very much in love, but not so much in love that they can’t see past a piece of land (Mary Tolliver) and pride (Percy Warwick.) The decisions they make and the consequences that follow is what this multi-generational saga is about.
Mary Tolliver is the sole heir of a plantation in east Texas called Somerset. Her father, Vernon, saw the same passion for cotton-growing in her that he had himself. Because of this, he saw fit to leave none of Somerset to his wife, Darla, and a small section to his son, William. Mary is just a teenager upon his passing, but she is internally happy about her inheritance because she knows that her mother and brother would have immediately sold it if her father had not given it to her. So, what was once a happy, loving family quickly becomes a resentful, unhappy one. I strongly disliked Darla, Mary’s mother. Even though it was Vernon who made the decision to give Mary Somerset, Darla blames Mary, too. Her last act was the ultimate form of cruelty a mother could bestow upon a daughter who’s just seeking her mother’s love and affection.
Mary is also in love with Percy Warwick, next in line to inherit Warwick Industries, one of the biggest lumber companies in the country. He’s also crazy about her. His best friend, Ollie Dumont, shares these same feelings for Mary, but steps back knowing he’s got no chance against the handsome and charming Percy.
Percy and Mary know they want to spend the rest of their lives together, but the thing standing in the way is Somerset. Percy wants a devoted wife whose whole world revolves around him and their children. Mary can’t offer this due to her undying devotion to Somerset and her father’s memory. Mary refuses to give up being the cotton farmer that is so innately a part of her. To separate her from Somerset would be to split her in half. She can’t be the woman he loves without Somerset. Even though it pains her and she knows she’s risking losing Percy, her life will always revolve around cotton. After a heated argument in which both Mary and Percy decide that there’s no reason to continue the relationship any longer, Percy takes off for Canada on a surveying trip and tries to put Mary behind him. No one knows when he will be back or how to reach him. It’s clear he wants it that way.
Mary pines for Percy and even decides that she’s willing to give up Somerset in order to be with him for the rest of her life. Not long after she’s made this decision, she realizes she is pregnant. After waiting for Percy as long as she can before her condition presents itself to the public, she convinces an all-too-eager Ollie Dumont to marry her and pass the child off as his own. The day they leave for their honeymoon is the day Percy comes home ready to tell Mary that he can live with Somerset, but he can’t live without her.
Roses is a story about the things people think are important. However, in the grand scheme of things, the decisions Mary and Percy made played out to forever make them miserable. Not only that, but seemingly put a hex on every person they encountered, with the exception of Ollie. The decisions they made not only affected their children, but their children’s children.
I found it hard to relate to Mary. Even though she was a kind, likeable woman, no piece of land is worth sacrificing the love of your life for. She, however, didn’t know the full cost her love for Somerset would cause her to pay. And it was completely foolish of Percy to let it separate them like he did. Upon becoming his wife and starting a family , her priorities very likely could have changed.
The story was tragic up until Mary decided that her “curse” was going to fall upon no one else that she loved. It was a very symbolic gesture when Mary gives Somerset to Percy in the end, even though it was too late. It caused me to really respect her for not letting her story repeat itself with her great-niece, Rachel. It took a lifetime of heartache for Mary to realize what’s really important in life, but at least she came to that realization before it was too late for Rachel’s happiness.
I honestly had a really hard time putting this book down. I became attached to the characters and kept hoping something good would happen to them. The end is tied up nicely, even though I wish it would have gone a little further. There were times in the book I was a little confused, but reading on would clear it up. It was a heart-wrenching story, but definitely a good read. And it ended well. Mary saw to that.
Sorry if I just totally bored you,
P.S. If you’ve got any good recommendations, send them my way. I like books. Period.
Copyright. Breauna Krider. 11/20/11