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Format: Hardcover, 272pp
Pub. Date: April 2004
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Reviewed by Thumper
Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! *smile* No, my sugar level is not low. I am of sound mind. I know that I am in Indiana and summer has just started. The reason behind my Season Greetings merriment is that I got to read a new novel by Bernice L. McFadden. It is like celebrating Christmas twice a year.
McFadden's latest novel is Camilla's Roses, a story of a family of women. In my opinion McFadden can do no wrong. I have loved every single novel written by her. McFadden does not disappoint me with Camilla's Roses. I love Camilla's Roses! I literally could not put the book down. True fact, I started reading the novel one Sunday morning at 6: 00 AM and finished it at 8:49 AM that same morning. Looking back at McFadden's literary output, Camilla's Roses will stand as one of the jewels of McFadden's career.
Camilla's Roses concentrates on two women; Camilla Boston and her grandmother, Velma Grafton. Camilla Rose Brown Boston has everything she dreamed of. She is a journalist and advice columnist. Camilla is married to a rich handsome man, Bryan Boston, and is a brand new mother to boot. Her life is a multitude of dreams coming true. One fateful day, Camilla discovers a lump on her breast, which turns out to be cancerous. This ordeal will cause Camilla to remember her past and the family she left behind in her effort to become ’normal’. When her world turns itself on its head, Camilla will discover that the family and identity she tossed away is what she needs the most.
Camilla's Roses is a small novel that packs one hell of wallop. McFadden's power of observation, her brilliant ear, the objectivity and deep insight into her characters is remarkable. McFadden's voice is strong and true. It sings with the deep seated nuggets of the characters' inner selves. The story flows and moves as early Sunday morning moans that are hummed by the church's mothers' board. Moans which ease into the ear being carried by warm honey while holding close the memories of the stings of bees.
As you've probably suspect, I loved everything about Camilla's Roses. I was expecting to become bored with the character Camilla before I started reading the novel. I knew I was in for another U Go Girl heroine, for the umpteenth time. Honestly, if Bernice McFadden's name was not on the book, I seriously doubt if I would have picked it up. I was willing to step out on faith and give the book a glance. This time, when I put my foot down, I landed on solid ground.
Camilla turned out not to be a boring character at all. I must admit that my interest did not lie with Camilla throughout the entire book, but with her grandmother Velma and Velma's sister, Maggie Rose George. Velma and Maggie are the heart of the novel. Velma and Maggie's relationship is filled with love, hate, protectiveness and bitterness. It is a fully realized sisterhood. I was completely caught up. The sisters' presence was strong, so much so that when the novel returned its focus back on Camilla, I felt let down. I was not disappointed for long because McFadden developed Camilla as fully as the sisters. I soon became equally engrossed in Camilla's life.
With Camilla's Roses, McFadden position as one of our best authors is secure.
McFadden is becoming a major stylist with a remarkable sense of time, while not
sacrificing the strength of a solid storyline or character development. It has
been a joy witnessing McFadden's growth as a writer. Camilla's Roses only
verifies that my adoration for McFadden is well placed. Most importantly, my
second Christmas for the year 2004 is only 6 months away. Christmas two times a
year, *LOL* it doesn't get any better than this.