“A story nestled in a masterful weaving of secrets, betrayals, hope, and healing.”
–Allison Pittman, author of Stealing Home and Saturdays with Stella
A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope
Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.
She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.
What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.
A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.16(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.83(d)|
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Read an Excerpt
It seemed to be a cottage that was alive, but it was only the vines twining in on themselves and clinging to the structure that were living, not unlike the memories and feelings people had attached to the house over time, making it mean more than mere sticks, pieces of wood, nails, and peeling paint could ever imply on their own.
The camera zoomed out to trace the rose brambles wrapping along the awning, curling over the banister and into the flowering borders along one side of the porch.The rest of the house gradually came into view, filling the scene with an abundance of roses in shades of scarlet draping the windows like curtains, then rambling across the roof, around the chimney and sweeping to the edges of the house, where they seemed to reach out their thorny branches toward passersby.
The lens didn’t capture the woman’s form at first as it swept away from the house down toward the yard and footpath with its border of snow white Shasta daisies and purple coneflowers. It leisurely zoomed in on a mass of daisies, capturing the breeze that sent an occasional ripple through the border, until the camera was forced to pause at the surprise interruption: a foot that intruded on the otherwise perfect scene.
To the artist behind the lens it was an exquisitely formed foot with a milky white ankle and pink-painted toenails. The lens suddenly tightened its view to capture the sandal decorated with pink and white pearlescent beads and a delicate pink ribbon that wound around the ankle and tied neatly above the heel.
The camera’s focus rose to the hem of a white peasant skirt that billowed softly in the breeze. Traveling upward, the lens skimmed long sleeves of gauzy blue adorned with tiny silver beads that crisscrossed both shoulders, edging along the neckline where beads dangled from the ends of a pink ribbon tie. The camera paused on a silver cross pendant that sparkled with the morning sunrise, glinting off the red jewel nested in the center.Moving up her profile, the lens traced blond tendrils escaping from beaded combs that held back her amber-streaked hair threatening to tumble from a loosely arranged bun. The lens paused, studying the dampness of her flushed cheeks, the unsteady rhythmto which her shoulders rose and fell, how her slight body slumped forward just a little, as if she might throw herself at the mercy of the house.
She straightened, startled,when a succession of clicks broke the silence surrounding the Rose House. Rather abruptly, the lens zoomed out. She was looking directly into the camera. More clicks. Her reddened eyes grew wide as she turned unexpectedly and ran down the path toward the main house of the Frances-DiCamillo Vineyards.
The camera zoomed in on her departing figure, following her for a moment, capturing in its lens the way her glossy hair slipped fromits bun and cascaded over her shoulders. After a few more clicks, the lens panned back to the house, zooming in on a flawless, wine-colored blossom. It was a perfect rose, a work of art.
Lillian dropped her camera into INTOher pocket. She had thought she was alone, but someone else was there, taking pictures of the Rose House—and of her. Ice encircled the nape of her neck as she recalled the words of the investigators.
“You probably shouldn’t be alone until we have this figured out,” they had said. But she’d gone against their advice, not even telling them she was taking a trip alone to La Rosaleda.
Reading Group Guide
1. When Lillian discovers her most private moment of grief has been captured on canvas by an anonymous artist, her journey to come to terms with the artist and the painting leads her to discover the true meaning behind the Rose House. What is the meaning behind the Rose House for Lillian? For Kitty? And for Truman? What, if anything, does the Rose House mean to Geena?
2. Have you ever had your own personal Rose House—a place or group of friends or family that brought about healing in your life? Share your experience.
3. What role does Aunt Bren play in this story? Describe someone who has played a similar role in your life.
4. Why does Lillian cling to the memory of her deceased husband even after she learns he wasn’t everything she thought he was when he was alive? What does this say about the nature of love? Do you think Lillian ever stops being in love with Robert? Why? Is it truly possible to love two people in one’s lifetime, or is there only one soul mate per person who makes everyone else pale in comparison? Explain.
5. Lillian vacillates between being head over heels in love with Truman and not trusting him. Why? Is it ever possible to be 100 percent certain that a person is the right one? What makes it so hard to know?
6. What drove Geena to essentially abandon Lillian after the accident? Was there ever a time in the story that you thought Geena was trying to harm Lillian? How does Geena’s attitude toward her sister change throughout the novel? How do Lillian’s feelings toward her sister change?
7. When is it okay to draw a line between yourself and another family member, as Lillian did between herself and Geena? Do you think God always expects total forgiveness? What actions and events led to reconciliation between Geena and Lillian?
8. The cross necklace that belonged to Lillian’s daughter is very meaningful to Lillian. Why else is it significant to Lillian’s journey?
9. Lillian drew a line between herself and God after losing her children. Why do you think she did this? What events and encounters eventually began to close that gap?
10. How much fault, if any, did Lillian bear when it came to her troubles with Geena? Do you think she did enough to make amends with Geena? What about Geena? Is it even possible for someone like Geena to make up for what they have done to others? Can we ever truly erase the harm we do to others? What makes two sisters, raised in the same family, take such different paths in life as Geena and Lillian did for many years?
11. Truman seeks to show truth in his paintings, but truth isn’t always what the viewer of the painting wants to see. How well do you think Beauty and the Beast Within mirrors Lillian’s journey of grief and healing? How does Truman’s depiction of her change over time? Why does Truman sometimes paint secret images in his paintings?
12. Truman knows his own private loss. How does meeting Lillian help him find healing? How does the grief Truman and Lillian each know bring them together? Does it ever push them apart?
13. Truman leaves Lillian behind for a time to give her time and space. Do you think he did the right thing? Why or why not?
14. Charles is an artist too. What do you think he means in the end when he says that once people know they are being observed, it is more difficult to capture the truth of the moment on their faces? Why does Truman tell Charles to look for truth in his work?
15. What did the author mean by describing each character at the end as being poised at the edge of a blank canvas?
16. Imagine that God is the Master Artist who is purposely painting your life on a canvas. What do you think your portrait looks like now? Describe what you hope it will look like when the paint dries.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
From the get-go, this book grabs you by the heart and doesn't let go. Part mystery, part romance, and full of suspense, you won't want to put it down! This book keeps you guessing and the surprises never stop. Many books by Christian authors such as Ms. Forkner have either lofty or dismal/desperate characters. However, all of the characters in Rose House were ones to whom I could relate and envision in everyday life, like a friend I'd want to invite over for dinner.
Great follow-up to Ruby Among Us!
Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner is the second book in the La Rosaleda series following Ruby Among Us. I do recommend reading the first book in this series, because there is a great deal of emphasis on the hope that Rose House offers. Lillian Diamon visits Rose House shortly after the death of her husband and twin children, but after being followed by mysterious men, she cuts her visit short. She doesn't return for four years, but when she does, she discovers that someone has painted a picture of her in the moment of her deepest grief. At first, she is angry at the intrusion, but upon meeting the mysterious artist, Truman, she finds herself drawn to him. Before she can make room for him in her heart, she has to release the grief at her loss and the bitterness at her sister's part in it. This book just didn't work for me as well as Ruby Among Us. The various plots didn't knit together neatly, and the purpose for the antagonist's murderous rage is never really disclosed. I didn't understand why he didn't just leave Lillian and Geena alone, no deep dark secrets were exposed to explain it. The romance between Lillian and Truman is the saving grace of the novel, but there is too little of it. Forkner is a terrific author, and I'm sure that her next book will be again evidence of that.
The back cover of Rose House describes this book as "A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman's search for hope." After reading only a few pages, I wondered how or even if Lillian would find this hope, after the indescribable loss she had faced in her personal life. But Rose House, a vine-covered cottage nestled in the vineyards of Sonoma Valley, is that symbol of hope. Rose House became famous, and visitors to the fictional town of La Rosaleda saw the house as a symbol of their hopes and dreams. Forkner's writing style often evokes emotions and makes the reader think, as when Kitty says: "I learned that a home is more than walls or even beautiful gardens. Without people who love us going in and out, walking down the halls, sitting at the kitchen table for a meal, a house is just an empty shell." I am thankful for my house that is certainly not an "empty shell." This book is not a downer at all. In fact, it inspires and shows how joy can come out of pain and loss. There's engaging characters, suspense, and the mending of difficult relationships - elements that combine to make an enjoyable read. Forkner is also good at using the art of painting to help us see God as the true Master Artist in our lives. Forkner's conclusion, actually the Epilogue, was done in one of the most unusual ways I've ever seen - through a photographer's lens as he pans out to capture the scene. "The camera's lens caught the joy on the face of each of Lillian's guests, pausing the moment where it seemed that their lives, and hers, were poised at the edge of a blank canvas just waiting to be painted with the rich shades and hues of a dazzling new scene. Click-click."
Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner If you haven't read Rose House you need to rush Barnes and Noble and purchase it. It is really a great book. I read the book in 2 days. It's one of those books that you can't put down. Rose House is the 2nd book in the series and well worth the wait. My book club read Ruby Among Us which was Tina's first book in the series. Also a great book! The story takes place in a small town known as La Rosaleda which is near the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley. Lillian finds herself at a beautiful cottage that is covered in roses which is known as the Rose House. She is mourning the loss of her entire family and seems to be drawn to this place. Four years later she returns to La Rosaleda and discovers a painting of her in front of the Rose House. She is determined to find out who the mysterious painter is. She never really knew what happened to her family on that fateful day 4 years earlier. There is a mystery to be uncovered. What happened on the day that her family was killed? The only one who truly knows what happened is her sister who disappeared on that fateful day? This is a story about pain, healing and forgiveness. I truly loved the characters in the story. Tina made them come alive and feel real to me. I loved the mystery that was wrapped into this story. I especailly loved the ending to this story but you will just have to read it to find out.
Rose House was a compelling story about a widow's grief and healing journey. Lillian is living every woman's worst nightmare. Having her family wiped out and then finding out how and why it happened would send anyone over the edge. This well-written portrayal of her pain pulled me because she had many legitimate reasons to be sad. I found this very believable and the writing very passionate. The whole scenario with her sister was also realistic as I personally have known several people in the same situation - betrayed by their own sister. That's tough to deal with. But my favorite part of the story was actually the romance. Truman was one of the hottest heroes I've gotten to know in 2009. He was amazing and I can see why Lillian found him hard to resist. The air literally crackled when they were near each other. This author knows how to write romantic tension like few authors have mastered. That alone makes this story a treat for me. So often in Christian fiction the attraction is toned down. Not so in Rose House. I sensed their longing and it was incredibly well done. I was just sorry the story had to end. I hope there is a sequel in the works.
Four years ago, Lillian Diamon learns that her husband Robert and their twin daughters Sheyenne and Lee died in an automobile accident. Lillian believes her sister Geena was the cause as she was having an affair with Robert and vanished just after the accident. Five days after burying her family, Lillian traveled to Rose House in La Rosaleda, California. There she sees in an art gallery a painting of Rose House, dubbed Beauty and the Beast Within from an anonymous artist; in front of the stately mansion is Lillian in all her grief.--------------- In the present Lillian takes time off from the restaurant she works at to travel to Rose House and to learn more about the picture. She has not spoken to Geena since the tragedy as her sister knows she hates her. In La Rosaleda, when she meets artist Truman, she wonders if he painted her picture while he thinks their encounter is a private personal moment like the one he inadvertently intruded on four years ago. Meanwhile Geena desperately tries to reach her to warn her ----------------- Much of the profound character study story line is a metaphor based on how an individual sees his or her life as a portrait painted by many other people until tragedy pulls away the various masks that hides the inner soul. A spin re the car accident adds excitement to the plot but detracts from the painting concept as if someone exploded bright red onto a soft pastel. Still Lillian is a diamond (with a d) as she is summed up with the family photos at the restaurant in which everyone else have loved ones on display while all she has is ROSE HOUSE.-------------------- Harriet Klausner