Audra (Unabridged Chick)'s Reviews > Sonoma Rose

Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini
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Jan 13, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: yawn, era-jazz-age, heroine-unlikable, historicals, place-california, unfinished
Read from February 12 to March 14, 2012

Sadly, this was a DNF for me. I tried about three times to get in to the story, employing my usual tactic of reading 100 pages in before giving up. In this case, I just didn't resonate with the characters or writing style, despite the book's interesting setting and potentially fun premise.

The book doesn't open with a date, so I had to guess when this is set -- through Rosa's discovery of a tommy gun and liquor casks it's clear the setting is sometime during the Prohibition -- but whether that's 1919 or 1930, I don't know. The heroine, Rosa, has had eight children, four of whom have died of a mysterious illness. Of her four remaining children, two are stricken with the same illness, while two -- born of another father -- are healthy and fine. (I learned this tidbit about the different fathers from the book blurb; it wasn't made very clear to me in the 100 pages I did read.) Rosa is in an abusive marriage to a man who, from what I read, picked on her since she was a child. Despite being in love with another much kinder man, Rosa marries this jerk, and the book opens with him slapping her around.

I don't want to victim blame as the cycle of domestic violence is complex, complicated, and difficult to break out of, but from the first page, I just couldn't stand Rosa. I'm not sure if she was featured in previous Elm Creek Quilts novels and thus the reader already cared for her, but when the story opens with her four dead children, two more dying, and a guy who beats her, I just wanted to toss the book to the wall. What motivates her to leave this time seems flimsy -- certainly no more shocking than the previous times her husband has attacked her -- and so I couldn't become invested in her flight or her fear.

The writing is fine and the setting very unique. From other reviews I've seen, I understand the book goes a bit in to the plight of the California wineries during Prohibition, and explores the way the Catholic Church perpetuated and excused domestic violence. The feel of this novel is cozy drama, if such a thing is possible.

Other reviewers on the tour enjoyed this book, so do check out other opinions to see if this is a book for you.

*** *** ***

3/14/12: Alas, a DNF despite my best, multiple, efforts. Full review, or, non-review of the first 100 pages to come soon.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) This is very detailed - and doesn't seem like it would be a fit for me, either. The other reviews for it seem more mixed, but domestic violence issues aren't something I like to read about.


Audra (Unabridged Chick) I'm always uncomfortable with violence in my books, but if it's part of the story and has an arc that leads to something good, I can usually cope. In this case, I understand there's ultimately a HEA but, I don't know, I just didn't gel with the heroine and so I found the set up really trying. Plus, I'm not a big fan of infidelity in my fic so the premise that she's having kids with another man while having kids with her husband just weirded me out.


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) Audra (Unabridged Chick) wrote: "I'm always uncomfortable with violence in my books, but if it's part of the story and has an arc that leads to something good, I can usually cope. In this case, I understand there's ultimately a H..."

Yeah... that's a big turn-off for me as well and is just weird. It'd be hard for me to identify with a main character like that.


Karin More annoying: halfway through they throw out "and then in 1917..." which was just confusing because I had no clue where we were before that!


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy This got pitched to me which rarely happens. I accepted bit in the meantime much more interesting and seemingly better-written novels that I requested have arrived. Will try it but not optimistic.


Audra (Unabridged Chick) Interesting -- will be curious to see what you think if you get to it -- opinions seem v divided -- like mine, or big love -- so you might love it! Maybe.


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy Seems a bit to chick-lit light for me. I'm
Sorry I said yes.


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