Customer Reviews for

The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted September 9, 2012

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    Very good book!

    I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It had a great story line. I have not read any other books by this author, but I think I will check into some other titles since this one was so good. I recommend this book!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Galilee ¿Gal¿ Garner isn¿t the typical protagonist. I¿ll just be

    Galilee “Gal” Garner isn’t the typical protagonist. I’ll just be honest—I didn’t like her. She was so rough and thorn like. She came off hard and callous. The truth is she’s had a rough go of life. I liked that she didn’t sit around and feel sorry for herself. Gal has kidney disease; she spent her days teaching high school science and most of her evenings sleeping at the hospital. She kept a strict schedule and strict diet. There were very few relationships with people in her life; she liked to keep people at arm’s length. She moved through her entire life with the knowledge that she could land in the hospital or die if she got sick. How sad to be burdened with knowing you could bring despair and loss to someone if you opened yourself up to loving them and letting them love you.

    Gal put all her passion and energies into something safe…her roses. Gal is obsessed about creating a new variation of a Hulthemia Rose. Her green house and her roses are her life, love, her baby. Gal seemed perfectly content with how things were, but her world gets turned upside down when Gal’s sister sends her daughter to Gal to watch. Riley is a young girl who shows up unannounced and with lots of her own ‘baggage’. Riley grew up being tossed around from her mother (who is an addict), her grandparents to her father (who is now remarried and no longer around).

    They seem to be exactly what the other one needs. Gal’s mothering instincts start to kick in and Riley begins to let Gal in—finding a safe spot.

    For me, I found this to be a special book. I don’t think it would be easy to write about such an unlikable person. And at the same time there is this very slow peeling away of the old Gal, but Dilloway never strays too far. Gal always seems the same just better. I slowly began liking her the more or moreso I understood her more and wanted more for her. I loved Riley and felt bad for Riley. I loved how Riley grew.

    I can’t say I put this book down and said “wow it was amazing,” but it was uplifting. Like I said, special. It felt real, like you were glimpsing into Gal’s life. It’s not a love story, but a story about the human spirit. It’s a novel I hope you will read. Take your time with it. Savor it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Galilee Garner can be as prickly and sensitive as the roses she

    Galilee Garner can be as prickly and sensitive as the roses she breeds in her southern California backyard, but when her teenaged niece arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly, temporarily homeless and motherless, Gal manages far beyond providing nutrient requirements.

    Thirty-eight, unmarried, and with no children of her own, Gal is a strict disciplinarian. She teaches high school science and coaches the Science Team in addition to showing her roses at national shows. Although schooled in the scientific method --do this and then this to get this result--she knows there is also an elusive, intangible, unquantifiable factor in successful rose-breeding and in life called “luck.”

    Dilloway has written a story that engages our senses (sight, smell, touch) and our whole mind: we are presented with constraints and conditions that must be taken into account when cogitating the deceptively “small” and everyday ethical questions Gal encounters as she teaches, and as she competes in rose shows. I would not be surprised to learn that Ms. Dilloway was schooled in philosophy, so much does this charmingly light and easy read recall the work of Alexander McCall Smith, Scottish philosopher and author, whose series The Sunday Philosophy Club likewise raises sticky ethical issues we often encounter in our own lives.

    This novel qualifies as a romance, though it is not typical in any way. For one thing, our main character is crusty and opinionated—rendering her unlikeable in the eyes of many. But she is clever, too, and principled, and a very good teacher. She also has a life-threatening condition which hampers her activities and constrains her choices. While her illness has constrained some opportunities, it has also given her opportunities. It is when Gal realizes her bounty and discovers not what she lacks but what she already has, that she becomes a person that people want to have as a friend.

    I am a sucker for books about gardening, its failures and its delights. I also like books about people managing to overcome--or manage in spite of--things in their physical or psychological makeup that would hold them back from living a full life. This novel raises plenty of important issues that we might encounter in our own lives, and gently guides us through possible outcomes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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