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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns (edition 2012)

by Margaret Dilloway

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1392886,938 (3.7)6
Member:gypsysmom
Title:The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
Authors:Margaret Dilloway
Info:Putnam Adult (2012), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:California, rose-growing, kidney disease, niece, teaching

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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway

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I’ve just finished ‘The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns” by Margaret Dilloway, who also wrote “How To Be An American Housewife”, published by Berkley.

When I started this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. The story began with a sort of lesson on how to breed roses. I suppose that’s because the main character of the story has high hopes of breeding a special rose that will be considered for propagation by the National Rose Society. This hobby of the science teacher Galilee Garner is her life; that, and the continued treatment of her kidney disease by going to dialysis every other night. Her life becomes more complicated by the arrival of her niece, the daughter of her estranged sister. The novel then becomes the story of their efforts to live together in harmony. They also find that they need each other. Galilee Garner learns some lessons herself, along with the subject she teaches.

I had a hard time with this book. There was so much text devoted to the propagating of her special rose and I really was not into this. My aunt would LOVE this book…she plants only the best roses in her gardens.

I was sent this free print book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.

You can find this review on my blog at http://wp.me/p2pjIt-7W. ( )
  SilverShrew | Feb 20, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm finally getting around to reviewing this one and am pleased to report this was a very enjoyable read. Dilloway has a great way of developing a character that leaves you wanting more. I also now want to plant a rose garden. I will look forward to more from this author. ( )
  Danean | Jan 27, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An ill, lonely high-school teacher/hobby gardener aunt and a lonely, damaged, sullen teenage niece find their lives intersecting when they least each least expect or want it.

Galilee Garner (Gal for short) suffers from kidney disease, which makes her life physically difficult and also affects her emotional outlook. She considers herself as “difficult and obstinate” as the roses she passionately cultivates. Riley, the teenage niece lands on her doorstep unannounced. Her mother has simply sent her to stay with her aunt while the mother heads off to a job halfway around the world. Riley’s sense of abandonment, her loneliness and difficulty coping with her academic/social high-school life means that she’s not the easiest teenager to deal with either. Both of them have to learn to work with each other, and fit their lives around the other.

Initially, Gal is a difficult character to like; she is probably even more “difficult and obstinate” than she describes herself to be. However, in learning to cope with Riley, Gal begins to change, and the development of her character is one of the best things about this book.
  sangreal | Jan 8, 2014 |
"Difficult and obstinate. Thriving under a set of specific and limited conditions. That pretty much describes me. Maybe that's why I like these roses so much."

Gal has struggled all her life with a kidney failure, going to dialysis several times a week, hoping upon hope that she'll get a transplant soon. While she waits, she teaches biology very strictly at the local Catholic high school, and cultivates roses. As an amateur breeder, she tries to create a unique new strain of the Hulthemia rose. When her niece Riley turns up unannounced, she turns Gal's well-ordered life inside out... and breathes fresh life in.

Gal is a bit of an odd fish - but to me, a fairly understandable one. She sees everything very much in black and white, is ambitious and scientific and colours very much within the lines. She's so keen to be considered a legitimate rose competitor, to be validated, while she copes with the devastating reality of her kidney issues. Dilloway includes in Gal the depression of a chronic illness sufferer, the logistical difficulties of dialysis and rose-tending, and the elation, jealousy and heartbreak of watching other patients on the same transplant list.

Like all these types of books (Looking for Me, Sisterland, Meet Me At the Cupcake Cafe, Love Anthony), the writing is easy and munchable without impediment, but equally not unappetising. Extra characters are as developed as necessary (i.e. often, not very), and certain conflicts and romances are easily foretold. The drama of the kidney failure is in a sense secondary to the main suspense of the Riley-Gal relationship.

Riley, the unexpected teenager, is the unsung heroine of this story. It would have been easy to cast the teenager as the disruption, the troublemaker, but Riley is actually a cleverly constructed character, full of surprises and gentle actions rather than trouble. She's honest but sullen, open and secretive in turns.

Not difficult to read at all - but quite good fun. ( )
  readingwithtea | Dec 25, 2013 |
I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns," mainly because I felt the author, Margaret Dilloway, did a commendable job creating well-rounded characters in Gal and Riley. I believed them and in them, and that made me interested in finishing the novel. It was a well-paced novel with a satisfactory ending. ( )
  amandacb | Jan 16, 2013 |
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Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.
- - Alphonse Karr
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To Deborah, for the inspiration

To Keith, for the faith
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Thirty-six-year-old biology teacher Gal Garner's regimented life will never be the same after her estranged sister's teenage daughter Riley arrives one afternoon unannounced.

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