In Search of the Rose Notesby Emily Arsenault
“A very clever wordsmith.”
—New York Times Book Review
“When Emily Arsenault was growing up, a teacher told the fifth-grader she was very good at writing. Give that teacher an A.”
Emily Arsenault’s compelling debut, Broken Teaglass, was resoundingly praised (&/em>/p>/em>/p>/em>
“A very clever wordsmith.”
—New York Times Book Review
“When Emily Arsenault was growing up, a teacher told the fifth-grader she was very good at writing. Give that teacher an A.”
Emily Arsenault’s compelling debut, Broken Teaglass, was resoundingly praised (“Quirky and inventive...meets all the definitions of a good read.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch). With her intelligent, complex, and ingeniously crafted sophomore offering, In Search of the Rose Notes, Arsenault validates her standing as an exhilarating new voice in contemporary fiction. A moody and engrossing mystery, In Search of the Rose Notes follows two best friends from childhood who once unsuccessfully investigated the disappearance of their teenage babysitter, and now, in their twenties, attempt once again to uncover the truth. Readers who love the literary, female focused mysteries of Laura Lippman, Tana French, and Jennifer McMahon will be thrilled to add Emily Arsenault to their must-read lists.
Former best friends reunite to solve the mystery of their babysitter.
It's been nine years since Charlotte and Nora's babysitter Rose disappeared. During that time, Nora has married and become a potter kept busy at craft fairs, while Charlotte, after floundering a bit, has become a schoolteacher. Their friendship has withered, and the days when they scanned arcane texts in hope of divining what happened to Rose are only distant childhood memories when Charlotte calls and announces that Rose's body, folded into a wicker trunk, has surfaced. So Nora returns to Waverly, Conn., to pick up the friendship and the mystery of Rose, a task that wends past anonymous poems in The Looking Glass, the Waverly Literary magazine; a crippling accident that Rose witnessed; and a vow of silence taken by four joyriders out for a little fun. The backward journey must also investigate a suicide attempt, inexplicable mood swings and childhood rivalries, jealousies and thoughtless cruelties before reaching its sad conclusion.
Arsenault (The Broken Teaglass, 2009) spins a tale that's sensitive, chilling and compellingly told in chapters alternating the troubled present with the even more turbulent past.
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In Search of the Rose NotesA Novel
By Emily Arsenault
William Morrow PaperbacksCopyright © 2011 Emily Arsenault
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFitting that Charlotte would call while I was doing nothing.
When we were kids, she was always saving me from nothing.
What are you doing? Nothing. And compared to Charlotte's
house, with its big brother, its basketball hoop, its VCR, its
trampoline, and its pantry full of Oreos, my place really was
nothing. You wanna come over? Nothing but an apartment with
neatly dusted hardwood floors, a grainy television without a
cable box, a crotchety old landlady downstairs, and a single
mother who prided herself on getting five meals out of a single
chicken. Did I want to come over? Back then the answer was
This time when Charlotte called, I was sitting at my wheel
in the garage, staring at a sketch I'd done a week earlierof
a squat teapot with a wide, round handle. I'd nearly sat down
twice to make it, and twice I'd found myself distracted by
something more pressinga bill I'd forgotten to pay, the lawn
I'd meant to mow.
Now I gazed at the freshly wedged lump of clay in my hands.
I hadn't much else to do but throw it down and get started.
My grades were submitted, the laundry was done, and this had
been my plan all along. Same as last year. Spend the summer
throwing like crazy so I'd have lots to sell through Christmas,
even if my teaching didn't allow me much time at the wheel
in the fall. It had worked beautifully last year. But this year I
just wasn't getting into it the way I had. Neil and I no longer
really needed my meager profits from the craft fairs and farmer's
marketsand maybe I didn't need any more compliments
from hemp-skirted ladies and their gentle, bearded husbands.
Not to mention that I was a little tired of my quaint teapots and
teacups. While I had nothing against quaintness, I wasn't sure I
wished to generate it anymore.
I considered ignoring the phone when it rang. Clearly I was
having the sort of existential moment a career in ceramics is
supposed to protect you from. If I focused, if I made myself
stay in the garage, I could work through it. If I simply ignored
everything else and got the wheel spinning, I'd probably just
forget about it.
After the third ring, I jumped up and ran for the door to the
"Hello? Nora?" I felt oddly relieved by the sound of her voice
even before I knew who it was. "It's Charlotte Hemsworth."
"Charlotte?" I repeated. "HEY!"
"Wow. How are you?
Charlotte hesitated. "Not so bad. And you? I heard you and
your husband bought a house."
I looked around the living room skeptically. It had been five
months since we'd painted these crisp yellow walls. Neil had
assured me that we'd feel better about our color choice once we
filled the living room with furniture and hung some pictures on
the wall to break it up. But we'd done all that and I still wasn't
Charlotte was silent on the other end.
"How'd you hear about the house?" I asked.
"I called your mom, and she told me. That's how I got your
number. She's easier to find than you are. Your old number
"My e-mail's still the same, though."
"I didn't want to e-mail you, Nora. I wanted to talk to you."
"Well, that's nice. I'm glad you"
"Nora," she interrupted.
"They found her."
"Found . . . who?"
I had a flash of Rose walking into the Waverly police station,
her dark blond hair still brushing her shoulders, her
wide-necked purple sweatshirt still hanging off one shoulder,
exposing her exotically black bra strap. Smelling of the Love's
drugstore perfume that was supposed to cover up the smell of
her cigarettes. That stone-washed jean jacket tied around her
waist. Her face about fifteen years older. Orhad it been more
than fifteen years?
"Oh, my God," I whispered, my heart now racing. "Is she"
"They found her body, I mean. Bones."
I leaned against the wall, pushing the phone so hard against
my ear that it hurt.
"Nora?" Charlotte said.
I tried to picture what Charlotte might look like at this very
moment. Sitting at her parents' old kitchen table, surrounded
by that ugly mauve wallpaper with the ribboned clusters of
white flowers. Saying my name so gently into the phone, as
if coaxing me there for another sleepover, promising no scary
movies this time. A promise she never seemed to keep.
"I'm here," I said. Sort of. "How do they know it's her?"
"Something about a bracelet, clothing fibers. . . . Listen,
I'm e-mailing you an article. I just didn't want to surprise you
Listening to Charlotte, I could almost smell her mother's
Pall Malls. That kitchen was where I was supposed to be when
we found Rosenot in this perky little bungalow where Neil
and I had accidentally painted every room one shade too bright.
I heard Charlotte take a breath.
"I'm at home," Charlotte said vaguely.
"No. Where did they find her?"
"Near the pond. Adams Pond."
"But . . . didn't they comb that area when we were kids? A
few times, even?"
"I'm not sure. But yeah. I thought so."
"Was she buried really deep? I mean, how did they know to
"Nobody knew anything. Some kids just . . . found her. There
was something sticking out of the ground, I guess, and . . . well,
I'm not sure. My friend Porter's done the first couple of stories
for the paper, but the police aren't giving out that many details."
"Your friend Porter?"
"From when I worked at the Voice," Charlotte said with a
"Oh," I said.
"Of course there are all sorts of rumors. I'm not sure how
accurate it is, but one scuttlebutt is that the body was moved
I slid down the wall until I was sitting on the floor. "But that's
. . . crazy. That's impossible."
Now that I was seated, I took a deep breath and tried to get
my head around it: Yes, this was real. I was talking to Charlotte
again. About Rose. But then, what else did we have to talk about
except Rose? We'd politely pretended otherwise for years, but
Rose was really the only thing we could still have in common.
"Are you all right, Nora?" she asked.
"Yeah," I said.
"Are you near a computer?"
"I'm sending you the article just now."
"You want me to read it right now?"
"Well . . . if you want."
Charlotte's sideways insistence was familiar and therefore
"Give me a few minutes," I said. "I'll call you back."
I opened my laptop and found her e-mail sitting there, dated
just one minute before now. The link was to an article in the
Voice. I had no idea my old hometown paper had gone high tech.
ADAMS POND BODY LIKELY
MISSING YOUNG WOMAN
WAVERLYThe bones found last week near Adams
Pond are likely those of Waverly resident Rose Banks,
who has been missing since 1990, according to police.
"It's still quite early in the investigation, but we now
believe that this could be Rose Banks. We've already
spoken to the family, and if it is her, we hope that this
will give them some closure in what has been a painful
case," Waverly police chief Carl Fisher said during a
press conference yesterday.
The skeletal remains, along with Banks's dental
records, have been sent to a forensics lab in Hartford
for further testing, which could take several weeks.
Tolland County coroner Donald Campbell, in a preliminary
investigation, identified the skeletal remains as
belonging to a female between the ages of fifteen and
twenty, which have been decomposing for at least ten
years, Chief Fisher said.
The body was found Thursday near Adams Pond
by two boys who were fishing there. Local and state
police closed off the entire pond area to search for
This discovery reopens Banks's sixteen-year-old
case, the only missing-person case ever reported in
town history. Banks, age sixteen, was last seen on the
evening of November 15, 1990, walking home from a
baby-sitting job in her Fox Hill neighborhood. Police
and town residents searched for weeks but found no
clues suggesting her whereabouts.
"With the help of Detective Tracy Vaughan of the
state police cold-case unit, we're going over every
detail of the case to make sure we didn't miss anything.
We'll likely re-interview many of Miss Banks's friends
and associates, and we would be grateful to speak to
anyone else who might know something about this
case," Chief Fisher said.
So it was real. They'd found Rose. After all these years. As
I read the article again, I had a feeling that my wheel wouldn't
be spinning for another week at least. I knew I needed to see
Charlotte, and she needed to see me.
It was Charlotte's idea to make the Zener cards. Like all her
projects that summer, the idea came out of the Time-Life
books. We pronounced them ZEE-ner cards. Rose managed to
turn the making of the cards into a two-afternoon affairone
for walking a mile and a half into town to Rite Aid for a pack
of three-by-five cards, the other for carefully crayoning thick
black circles, squares, crosses, stars, and (the most fun, but also
the most difficult) three-lined psychedelic squiggles. Rose
rejected our early attempts, insisting that the waves needed to be
parallel and that sloppiness might confuse the mind and skew
On the third day of the project, Rose finally shuffled the
cards and laid them out for us. She'd been designated for this
task since she was, for all intents and purposes, the grown-up.
Charlotte and I would take turns guessing the symbols on the
overturned cards and recording each other's results. On the
first try, I got ten out of twenty-five. Charlotte got four. On my
second round, I noticed Rose's face changing before some of
my guesses. Her mouth opened round before a circle; her head
bobbled lazily before the wavy lines. Once she was certain I'd
noticed it, the gestures became subtlera slight movement of
the mouth for a circle, a twitch of the chin for the squiggles.
For stars, squares, and crosses, she offered no help, keeping her
face motionless and her eyes slanted toward the ceiling in an
exaggerated expression of disinterest.
"Wow." Rose raised her eyebrows at Charlotte when my
second and third rounds turned out an impressive thirteen and
Through Rose's facial codes, I noticed a helpful pattern
more often than not, she put squiggly lines on the edges and
circles somewhere in the center of the five-card rows. Her hints
weren't always discernible, and sometimes Charlotte's intense
gaze made it impossible to sneak a look at her. But overall the
help made my results significantly higher than Charlotte's. As
my psychic superiority became apparent, Charlotte was clearly
perplexed. Instead of scrutinizing us, however, she simply
focused harder on her own guesses. Frowning and uncharacteristically
silent, she was determined to reverse the results. She had
apparently been certain that she'd be the psychic one. We knew
this without ever hearing her say it. Whenever a situation
allowed for someone to be the winner, or to be special, Charlotte
inevitablyand usually effortlesslyfell into the role.
Rose and I never discussed our cheating or adjusted the
methodseven when we could have, when Charlotte was in
the bathroom or fetching more graham crackers out of the
pantry. I never understood why we were doing it. It wasn't to
laugh at Charlotte or to trick her. I wouldn't even say Rose liked
me better than she liked Charlotte. She didn't have enough
interest in either of us to form a preference.
"Your psi seems stronger for round and wavy lines," Charlotte
observed after about three afternoons of repeated testing.
I bit my lip and looked at Rose for help.
"Probably she's using her right brain more," Rose said quickly.
"What does that mean?" Charlotte asked.
"I learned about it in school," Rose explained. "The left brain
is more like the science and math part. The right brain is, like,
the soft stuff. Art and poetry and stuff. I'm right-brained, I
think. My sister's left-brained. Nora's probably right-brained."
"What do you think I am?" Charlotte wanted to know.
"I'm not sure. What do you like better, math or language arts?"
"I like both."
"Well. Then you're neither-brained."
"Or both-brained," Charlotte suggested.
Rose gathered up the cards, looking bored. "Another round?"
she asked, shuffling.
"This time with Pepsi," Charlotte suggested, and then she
explained to us her latest finding in the black books. Experiments
performed by J. B. Rhine in the 1930s indicated that people's
ESP and psychokinetic abilities improved after they'd drunk
caffeinated sodas. After hearing this explanation, Rose let us
raid Charlotte's dad's impressive Pepsi supply in the pantry.
"If anyone asks, I drank most of it and you guys each just had
a glass," Rose called from the living room as Charlotte and I
chugged in the kitchen.
I thought I sensed in that statement Rose's desire to have a
little Pepsi herself. As Charlotte refilled my glass, I stepped
tentatively into the living room to ask her if she wanted any. When
I saw her slip a few cigarettes out of Charlotte's mom's coffee
table pack, I crept back into the kitchen for my second glass.
The Pepsi results were inconclusive. Charlotte's performance
improved slightly but remained just under chance. Mine stayed
"Nora's looks like a pretty pure power," Rose said. "Kind of a
steady, unshakable vision."
Charlotte sucked on a lock of her reddish hair. She looked
wounded, but just for a moment. When her eyes met mine,
she pulled the hair out of her mouth and gave me an admiring
"Yes," she said, tucking the lock behind her ear. "It looks
Excerpted from In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault Copyright © 2011 by Emily Arsenault. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow Paperbacks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Emily Arsenault is also the author of The Broken Teaglass, In Search of the Rose Notes, Miss Me When I’m Gone, and What Strange Creatures. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This story is wrapped around those fantastic Time Life books that used to be published, with those unforgettable black and silver covers; books that spoke about everything from myths to monsters that lined the end of the aisles in all the hometown grocery stores. Charlotte and Nora are babysat by a beautiful girl named Rose. Rose is a bit quiet, some would call her "odd," but the girls love her. In fact, each and every day after school they do a project of some kind, and talk about the incredibly strange worlds that Charlotte's Time Life books cover. Nora is the more grounded one of the two best friends, whereas, Charlotte is the outspoken one who takes notes and actually believes in most all of what Time has discovered. One day, out of the blue, Rose and Nora leave Charlotte's house and Rose walks Nora home. Then, as always, Rose disappears over the hill to get back to her own place. In the morning, however, Rose doesn't reappear. In fact, she never made it home the night before. The crime goes unsolved in the community, with the "small-town" people chalking it up to a runaway. As far as they are concerned, Rose decided to simply move on. Years later, Nora and Charlotte are living far apart. Nora went on to get married to a wonderful man and works as a pottery-maker, creating sculptures to sell at various arts and crafts fairs, as well as teaching her skill to others. Charlotte stayed back in the old hometown and became a teacher; the two best friends keeping in touch with hardly more than a yearly Christmas card. Until the day that the body of Rose is found, and Charlotte calls up Nora to tell her to come back for a visit. The police, who have found the bones nicely placed into a tote and sitting beside the river's edge, want to question everyone from way back when about what happened before Rose's disappearance, in an attempt to try and solve the crime. Nora feels strange coming back home. The memories of Rose, and sitting around her now chain-smoking best friend who seems to have her own secrets, makes Nora very nervous. But as the two now-grown women begin to unearth the past, and a box that holds letters, notes, and the black and silver books, the mystery of what actually happened to Rose begins to appear before their very eyes. This author has done a magnificent job of incorporating the resurrection of a friendship with a slightly "bone-chilling" tale of a young girl who was into far more than her hometown ever thought. Quill Says: This is what one would call a beautifully written mystery that combines a 'normal' present with a haunting past. Enjoy!
What a great read! really enjoyed it. It was very easy for me to connect to the characters
Charlotte and Nora have not seen each other in many years. They grew up together, and were best friends as girls. After their babysitter disappeared when they were in grade school, they grew apart. Nora eventually left the area, while Charlotte remained behind. Rose's disappearance remained unsolved. Now, fifteen years later, bones have been found in a place previously searched. Nora is drawn back home, as she and Charlotte revisit the past in hopes of solving the mystery of Rose's disappearance. The high school literary magazine may offer clues, as not only did Rose and later Charlotte work on it, but now Charlotte teaches at the high school. The characters are interesting, and tightly interwoven in this suspenseful novel. Their histories are long and complicated. In Search of the Rose Notes offers many twists and turns and surprises. It is a perfect summer read.
Remember those Time Life books about alien abductions, werewolves, astral projection and all things occult? Remember how it was hinted that they held the answers to all the questions of the more inquisitive minds? I don't know about you, but I still have a special place in my heart for those types of books...hell, even space on my bookshelf. Usually you were reading these books around adolescence, when you realized there was so much more to life than what was known, than our own insignificant worries about boys noticing us, or wearing the right kind of clothes, or getting good grades, or maintaining our "reputation." Nora and Charlotte are two of these 11 year old girls, taking on the mysteries of the universe. When their teen-aged babysitter goes missing, they use the techniques of their prized Time Life books in order to find out what's happened to her. Only, despite all their research--the runes, the EVP recordings, and the dream analysis--they get nowhere. Now in her late twenties, Nora revisits her old hometown and her old friend, Charlotte. New information has emerged and left the entire community shaken; all the old questions and suspicions are rehashed, and no one is safe from scrutiny. Rose's bones have been found in the woods and all signs point to her body being relocated recently. Charlotte and Norah join together after a long estrangement to find out who is responsible for Rose's death. As they discuss that fateful fall, Nora remembers a lot more than she bargained for, and suspects that Charlotte knows more than she is letting on. But is Norah ready to learn the truth about Rose's death, the truth about the community she left behind, the truth about the girl she was and tried so hard to forget? Did they ever really know Rose? As they pore over her old notes and dream entries (pieces they badgered her into writing for their Time-Life projects), they begin to realize that their perceptions of Rose have changed with experience and hard-earned wisdom. This isn't just a book about a missing girl and a sleepy town: it's about the people we try to escape, the fugitives we become from our pasts, and how reinventing ourselves can lead to emotional stagnation and arrested development. It's about the connections we run away from, the people who knows us more than we know ourselves, and the truths we just aren't ready to see. It's about coming home again, when you've been away for so long. Excerpts: "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Almost all the girls I teach have some crazy impulse or other. Even if it takes a very different form. Sluttiness. Shoplifting. Cheerleading. That age for girls, it's like." Charlotte twisted her cigarette in her ashtray and glanced down at one of the books on the coffee table. "It's like the Bermuda Triangle. Smooth sailing, then something goes haywire. Nobody understands exactly what happens. And it's totally random, who makes it out the same, who gets lost, who comes back okay."
The novelnswitches from the past to present quite a bit. Whil this technique could be.used to really show character motives and development, i found it dstracting here, as there was a lot that was truly superfluous. There were some great ideas here as themes. But i think it could have been edited better, the characters made a little more real, and the themes explored more. But still a.good book.
In Search of the Rose Notes is a engrossing read. The uneven childhood friendship between Nora and Charlotte provides drama and moves the story forward as they each try in their own way to solve the mystery of their babysitter's disappearance. Nora is a much more sympathetic character than her privileged friend. As Nora reaches out to and meets with people that she knew back then, when she was "the last person to see Rose alive" we can picture her high school experience - not fun - and clues to Rose's mysterious disappearance. Full of emotion, mystery, and unexpected twists, In Search of the Rose Notes is a complicated an unexpected read. ISBN-10: 0062012320 - Paperback $14.99 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (July 26, 2011). Review copy provided by the publisher.
Eleven-year olds Nora and Charlotte were best friends. When their teenage babysitter, Rose, disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the girls decided to "investigate." But their search - aided by paranormal theories and techniques gleaned from old Time-Life books - went nowhere. Years later, Nora, now in her late twenties, is drawn back to her old neighborhood - and to her estranged friend - when Rose's remains are finally discovered. Upset over their earlier failure to solve the possible murder, Charlotte is adamant that they join forces and try again. But Nora was the last known person to see Rose alive, and she's not ready to revisit her troubled adolescence and the events surrounding the disappearance - or face the disturbing secrets that are already beginning to reemerge. In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault is a compelling novel about the secrets people keep when they don't know which way to turn. Sometimes dead bed confessions can be good for the soul, and other times it will unlock a unsolved mystery for good. This novel also shares what happens to people who know what happened but can't find a way to let the truth out. When Charlotte and Nora gain the childlike curiosity to wonder why things happen that are unexplained through a collection of Time-Life books that Charlotte's brother has had, they begin to use the secrets in them to unlock the mystery of what happened one fateful night when she walked home and never made it. Sixteen years later, Rose's body is discovered in the pond just as Nora makes a visit to Charlotte after hearing the news. Convinced the secret lies in notes about their dreams when they were children, the women once more turn to their books to see if a pattern exists that will point to what really happened to Rose. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and could relate to this book in so many ways. Being a child myself, I remember the curiosity I had in thinking about the possibilities of powers of the mind, things that go bump in the night, and wondering if some of those things are real or just a way to sell books. This one is like a mystery you are trying to solve along with Charlotte and Nora many years later as the author takes you back to their childhood before Rose went missing to see if somehow something was overlooked in what they remembered about that time. This book is great for mystery, suspense lovers and rates a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Surprising ending although it was a lot of buildup and not much reward.
Yuck i would not recomend it
A VERRY GOOD READ. SM
Story dragged out way too long. I kept waiting for it to get better. I was disappointed in it.
Mystery with charm. Another author to add to your wishlists
Emily Arsenault is a very talented writer and I REALLY enjoyed the development of the characters. She went into so much depth with them and I could find myself relating to the main character in many ways. I was so into this book and couldn't wait to find out what happened to Rose. I won't say anymore....but the ending was not really what I expected and kind of left me scratching my head.
Both my daughter and myself thouroughly enjoyed this book..The tie in with the Time Life books on the occult and supernatural was cool and we like that it was set in New England...We admit we both thought a different person was responsible for Rose"s disapperance then the person who was but it didn"t lessen our enjoyment...
This is a rather unusually written book. Definatly not something for rainy days due to the rather total sad essence of the story. This book is one that if you have nothing else to read it would work.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants something that is just too good to put down.
Was a really good book was very easy to follow story line! It does go back in forth in time a lot but it makes a very good read.
I really enjoyed this book, more than many of the books I have read recently. Would definitely recommend it!