Friday, July 18, 2014

"Roses," a novel about forgiveness

Unintended Consequences of Secret-keeping

A followup to "Somerset," I read "Roses," in chronological order rather than the order these 2 books by Leila Meacham were written and published. Finishing the combined 1216 pages between the 2 books in less than 2 weeks, I read the last 100 pages or so last night. Now what? I need to talk about it.

Like "Somerset," this book puts forth complications set in motion by people who keep secrets. "Roses" ends neatly, with loose ends tied like a bow rather than an unraveling mess. Novelists can sort out the messy business of life and leave the reader satisfied by the way things work out, despite disappointments along the way.

Secret-keepers, in this case characters who think they can control others and effect outcomes to suit themselves, encounter unforeseen complications that hurt those they intended to protect. I'm trying not to spoil the plot. I guess you could say, I'm keeping secrets. 

But as a friend of mine says, "It's never right to do wrong."

An Emblem of Forgiveness

I especially like the use of roses, emblems of the two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, Lancaster and York, who were ancestors to the Tolivars and Warwicks. Their common history provided the foundation for the lives these families carved out in East Texas.
“The red and white rose, what else? They will be a reminder of my duty to our friendship, to our joint endeavors. And if ever I should offend you, I will send a red rose to ask forgiveness. And if ever I receive one tendered for that purpose, I will return a white rose to say that all is forgiven.”
The point of the story saga is that each and every character needed forgiveness for something they had done that hurt someone else. In some cases a person is the offender and in other cases, that same person was the offended. Like Paris, forgiveness is always a good idea.

When I finished reading "Roses," the Lord's Prayer came to mind … forgive us AS we forgive others. "As" means, in the same way, and to the same extent. In effect, we create our own measuring rod for forgiveness by the way we forgive others.


A red rose extended to ask for someone's forgiveness and a white rose to grant forgiveness, the color pink was eschewed, representing unforgiven. A character in "Roses" chose pink to send the message, in effect saying, I will never forgive you. Only the irony is that the one who chooses not to forgive someone else remains unforgiven.

That particular character leaves a vivid, haunting picture of their unwillingness to forgive, showing how bitterness and resentment destroy a person who refuses to forgive. 


Would a book by any other name captivate and motivate forgiveness?

Don't know that I will ever look at roses the same way after reading this book. At one point, a character says, "I guess the most we can hope for at the end of our lives is an armful of white roses," or words to that effect. Imagine the fragrance.

Seeking forgiveness turns into something beautiful and remarkable when forgiveness is bestowed because forgiveness is never deserved.

Which reminds me of something else that Jesus said,
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. ––Luke 7:47

No comments: