ROSE'S GARDEN by Carrie Brown


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 A wise, surprisingly deft, fablelike first novel celebrating the rejuvenating effects of love. Seventy-five-year-old Conrad, four months after the death of his beloved wife Rose, finds himself at loose ends, humbly going through life's routines. Nothing stirs him, not his beloved flock of passenger pigeons, nor the odd, vivid life of the small New Hampshire town in which he and Rose lived for many decades-- nothing, that is, until he rushes out one stormy night to tend to his flock, only to encounter an angel in the garden. Even more astonishing, the angel has the features of Conrad's long-dead father-in-law, Lemuel. The message he carries is curiously simple: Rose loves him, and it is time for Conrad to ``go home.'' Not to heaven, but back to his home in this world, back to some sort of involvement with his neighbors. Conrad, dazzled, sets down the experience in a straightforward letter to the local newspaper. Its publication inspires a series of confessions by Conrad's neighbors, a variety of stories about the irruption of mystery and the sacred into everyday life. Conrad begins to tend Rose's vast, beloved garden again, finds himself building a tentative yet nourishing friendship with Hero, a deeply disturbed but profoundly gifted young woman who had been Rose's gardening protÇgÇ, and also finds, to his considerable surprise, that he now feels a clear appetite for life. Having worked as a gilder, covering everything from capitol domes to church spires to weather vanes in gold, ``sealing the plain old world in shimmering layers,'' he now discovers the extraordinary beauty already present in the world. And he's given a chance to help save it when a ferocious storm causes a local dam to crumple, threatening his town and his friends. All of this would seem an unaffecting melodrama in less talented hands. But Brown nicely matches a shrewd eye for character with a fresh, unadorned, exact prose style. A warm, remarkably surefooted debut. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 31st, 1998
ISBN: 1-56512-174-0
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998


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