Title: Her Name Is Rose
Author: Christine Breen
Length: 304 pages
Publication Date April 14th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 4 Stars
People used to say Iris Bowen was beautiful, what with the wild weave of her red hair, the high cheekbones, and the way she carried herself like a barefoot dancer through the streets of Ranelagh on the outskirts of Dublin city. But that was a lifetime ago.
In a cottage in the west of Ireland, Iris--gardener and mother to an adopted daughter, Rose--is doing her best to carry on after the death of her husband two years before. At the back of her mind is a promise she never intended to keep, until the day she gets a phone call from her doctor.
Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Rose is a brilliant violinist at the Royal Academy in London, still grieving for her father but relishing her music and life in the city. Excited but nervous, she hums on the way to an important master class, and then suddenly finds herself missing both of her parents when the class ends in disaster.
After the doctor’s call, Iris is haunted by the promise she made to her husband--to find Rose’s birth mother, so that their daughter might still have family if anything happened to Iris. Armed only with a twenty-year-old envelope, Iris impulsively begins a journey into the past that takes her to Boston and back, with unexpected results for herself and for Rose and for both friends and strangers.
Intimate, moving, and witty, Her Name is Rose is a gorgeous novel about what can happen when life does not play out the way you expect. -Goodreads
Her Name Is Rose is a story of connectedness. Its beginnings, endings, reasons, and justifications.
Iris Bowen is a woman who should be enjoying the settled life of a married empty-nester. Instead she finds herself grieving the loss of a husband, suddenly sacked from her job, and facing the "what if's" of what her doctor has referred to as an "architectural distortion" in one of her breasts.
With the possible diagnosis of a malignancy looming on the horizon of her immediate future, Iris is reminded of a promise made to her late husband. A promise that will clear long forgotten paths to people and places from her adopted daughter's past, while forging new inroads to people, places, and truths, meant to change everyone's futures.
The story told in this touching and vibrant tale, is not so much the story of Rose, as it is the who's why's and where's of her past and how they relate to those of her present and future.
One must take care when endeavoring to embark on this tale's journey. For while the story's plot is quite direct, its piece by piece execution can be very disconcerting, to say the least.
Let me explain...
Rose's tale, as told through her adoptive mother, Iris, Rose, as a young adult, and Rowan, her birth father; is a story told in brilliant snippets of sight, sound, and interaction. Each meeting, parting, conversation, and discovery is imbued with an undercurrent of emotion.
Iris' search for Rose's birth mother provides a bit of a mystery that proves quite interesting for the reader. Her travels also open doors for her on more personal and unexpected levels.
Rose's part in the story seems to work more on an abstract level. A reason for happenings than her actual role. She really plays no significant part in the story, other than to provide the heartwarming bow that ties things together at story's end.
The real star of this story has to be Rose's birth father Rowan. Here is a man groping his way through life, regretting his past, and dreading his future. Until he learns of Rose. Until he learns to hope.