September 09, 2012
Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini
Rose (aka Rosa) has always been in love with Lars. But because of his drinking and other issues that arise with their relationship, she ended up married to John instead. John is an abuser, and father to six of her eight children (and not all those children alive) and so he lashes out in his anger at her betrayal as well. When he becomes too dangerous, Rosa and her remaining four children run away with Lars. This is partly to save her, but also to try to help her children that have a mysterious sickness get better. They end up in wine country, and learn just how Prohibition is destroying the grape farmers there and become a part of more than they would have bargained for.
I just didn't really like Rosa. She was a victim of abuse, and I feel for her on that aspect, as noone should ever be abused, but I also didn't like the way that she treated people. She was unfair to her husband even before he became an abuser and while he was a horrible man for being an abuser, one wrong does not deserve another. Lars was also kind of lackluster for me, he didn't seem to care about too much and rather let his whims carry him for most of his life. The kids were all kind of secondary, you never really got a big feel for their personalities other than a few of them were sick and Rosa worried about them dying. There just wasn't anyone to connect to in this novel.
I thought the Prohibition theme was interesting but the way Chiaverini wrote it was long and drawn out. It actually took up the biggest part of the book aside from Rosa's love triangle. And there was barely any mention of quilts at all, which since this is an Elm Creek Quilts novel, is inexcusable. It's fine to write a book like this, but don't market it under that brand if that's not what it's about. I also found Rosa and Lars escape very unrealistic. Everything was just kind of handed to them and it was so easy for them to get what they wanted. Not to mention everything gets tied up neatly with a little bow at the end; things rarely work out that way in real life. She was so gritty and realistic in her descriptions of abuse and rape, that it really surprised me she would fall out of reality for everything else.
A disappointment for me. I wish it had been a stand alone book rather than marketed as an Elm Creek Quilt novel so I could have stayed away from it. I couldn't have even given it good marks then though due to the choppy fast pace and unrealistic happenings of the main characters.