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(Roses #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  4,731 ratings  ·  595 reviews
Gone with the Wind meets The Help in the stunning prequel to Leila Meacham's bestselling family epic Roses.

"From birth, Jessica had eschewed the role to which she'd been born. Was it because she sensed that her father's indulgence was compensation for his disappointment in her? Jessica thought too much, questioned, challenged, rebelled. Sometimes Eunice thought her daught
Hardcover, 610 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing (first published November 5th 2013)
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Anna Smith I finished it in 5 days and I am by no means a quick reader! Historical fiction is my favorite to read and while this does have aspects that remind on…moreI finished it in 5 days and I am by no means a quick reader! Historical fiction is my favorite to read and while this does have aspects that remind one of Gone With the Wind I believe that Somerset stands on its own. Definitely worth the read!(less)

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Average rating 4.15  · 
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Helene Jeppesen
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful book in many ways, but mostly because it took me by surprise.
“Somerset” is not a book that I would normally fall in love with, and I can clearly see myself hating it if I had read it at a wrong point in time. However, I didn’t! It seems I read it at the perfect time because I was able to oversee the silliness of this book’s characters and their decisions, and I was able to completely fall in love with the story gradually as I got more and more into it.
I still think that Si
Dale Harcombe
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not being a fan of white flowers I picked up and read this book despite its cover of white roses. I enjoyed this novel which tells the story of three families the Tolivers, Warwicks, and DuMonts over a span of years. The time period covers such issues as migration to Texas, slavery and the Underground Railway as well as the Civil War.
Jessica is a spirited woman. Her unconventional views get her into trouble with her father who is a slave owner and sets her life on a course different than she i
Lelia Meacham is my favorite romance/saga writer of these times. She stole my heart in her huge novel some years ago, "Roses," and continued to do so with this continuation of the families in "Somerset." If you love a big and heart-wrenching story with every twist and knife-edged turn of love and'll love this book. It's a stand alone, but if you read "Roses" first, you'll love it even more.

Meacham's characters are so engaging you could just eat them up. Jessica, the main female
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Overall, I liked this. It was a solid 3 stars for me. But I did the audio on this and that was a mistake on my part. I do NOT recommend the audio. The reader poured on the southern accent. It was a little much. I would have enjoyed this so much more if I had actually turned the pages. One of the main characters was a strong southern female, but the audio reader kept trying to make her into a cheesy damsel in distress. That was so hard to overcome for me. It was a struggle to tune out the voice s ...more
Katherine Coble
Try as I might, I can't enjoy a book that calls slaves "servants" in one paragraph and then, just a few paragraphs later, discusses which of the sons of the manor inherited which "servant" upon the death of the plantation owner.

Had the characters been more interesting I might have put up with it. But romanticising slavery and, by extension, antebellum lifestyles is something I don't enjoy.
Jan 23, 2014 marked it as could-not-finish
After reading Somerset half way through I came to the conclusion that I just didn't care what happens to these characters. The family sage didn't evoke any emotions in me. I didn't HAVE to see how this plays out because the characters didn't have that emotional pull. The story was some what engaging but I found it choppy and full of uninteresting details. I wanted more hardship working the farm or setting up life in Texas but once they got there time began to skim 5 or so years per chapter.

Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-author
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I am so glad that I did. Reminiscent of big sweeping novels such as Gone With the Wind or North and South, covering generations of families. A genre that seems not so often written today. The Toliver and Warwick men come from a lineage of English heritage and wealth. Jeremy Warwick and Silas Toliver leave the family plantations to start their own plantations in the new state of Texas. Silas is coerced into marrying Jessica Wyndham to relieve the Wynd ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am so sad to be done with this book .I wanted to continue with this beautiful family saga .Leila Meacham is a superb writter .I really felt so many emotions I cried I laughed and just plan could not wait to pick it back up again .
I have a signed copy coming from texas from my mother she had the great fortune to meet ms meacham on 2/15 at a bookstore in houston area.I can truly see movie coming with roses and somerset.
I picked up roses when borders was closing just browsing thru books and the b
Laura P
An epic family saga
A prequel to Leila Meacham’s ‘Roses’……
’Somerset’ tells the story of three generations of Tolivers, Warwicks and DuMonts as they first move to Texas and begin to build their respective empires and establish the town of Howbutker, TX. It covers six decades beginning with Silas and Jessica Toliver, Jeremy Warwick and Henri DuMont as they travel west to Texas, then follows with 2 generations of their offspring.

Though some complain it is too long, I enjoyed the extensive charac
RoseMary Achey
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Somerset follows the life of a Charleston woman as she marries, relocates to East Texas and establishes a cotton plantation with her husband in the early 19th century. Historical fiction and romance would best describe this novel. Covering over 75 years and three generations I found the writing somewhat predictable and not incredibly imaginative.
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Changing my rating from 4 to 5 stars only because I still am thinking about Jessica. If I find I'm missing a character in a book I liked I think it deserves 5 stars!
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, but just couldn’t. The writing was incompetent with predictable plots and an attempt to throw in bits of historical fact here and there.
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Silas Toliver is a second son in the South during the pre-Civil war years. As such, he has inherited nothing from his father’s plantation holdings, and, to put it mildly, Silas is ‘land-hungry’. He wants to run a plantation and build it up, and seems to have the talents and gifts, but no means, to do it. Right off the bat Meacham has created a character whose frustration impels him to take action, and his guilt and justification of that pursuit haunt him for much of the duration of the novel.

Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Somerset gives the backstory and establishment of the founding families of Howbutker, Texas, whose descendants we’ve already met in “Roses.” It’s rare to have epics like this written nowadays. Fascinating to watch characters age and die, surrounded by major events in this country’s history, but sadly I was never able to feel close to any of them. I felt that by the end, the characters remaining were not as interesting as the ones at the beginning; I was more interested in the start, in the journ ...more
Christy Ryan
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
If this book would have ended about pg 400 I think it would have been a 5 star. I really enjoyed it and I felt closure at that point. The last 200 pages just dragged a bit on. That being said, I still love this author and the way she tells a story...and of course love a book set in Texas!
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Classic historical fiction set in the south. This covers it all - wagon trains, plantations, cotton, civil war - I loved every page.
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-own-have-read, 2020
I just LOOOOVE family sagas set in the 1800's!! I can't wait to read Roses next as this was the prequel. I was a little intimidated as it was over 600 pages, but it was so engaging it flew by.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Somerset, you are NOT Gone With The Wind.
Somerset, you are NOT The Help!
Somerset, I knew Gone With the Wind- I knew The Help.
Somerset- you are NO Gone With the Wind!
About 200 pages too long. However, it did fill in the Roses story-line and I did enjoy the the time period. 3.5 saga stars.
Mar 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krystal DeMoss
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
When I first started this book, I doubted that I would make it all the way through. It seemed a typical antebellum historical novel with the same stock characters. Particularly annoying is the stereotype that any white woman who would fight against slavery would HAVE to be a mannish spinster. Then I got to Part 2 and I was hooked.

The blurb on the back of "Somerset" compares it to "Gone With The Wind". (It's also compared to
"The Help" which is ridiculous for many reasons.) While both "Somerset"
Sharon Chance
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing

If you are a historical fiction fan, and a fan of family sagas - then "Somerset" is the book for you! Documenting three families who move from South Carolina to Texas before Texas became a state, author Leila Meacham spins a tale (well, several tales) that brings to life the drama and struggles that pioneer Texas families endured as they begin their lives in the rough, raw East Texas piney woods.

"Somerset" is actually a prequel to Meacham's bestselling book, "Roses," and both books tie together
Lisa B.
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it

My Thoughts

If you want to lose yourself in a good family saga, this is the book to do it with! The story covers three generations and numerous historical occurrences that happens during the ocer years of three families that move west to settle in Texas. From a character perspective, Somerest has it covered - characters to love, hate, cheer for and want to smack.

I was initially a bit intimidated by the 600+ size of Somerest, but the story was well paced and held my interest.

Many thanks to
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am crazy to start this book at this point in my life, but oh well. :)

Finished this and it was a great "escape" book. It is the prequel to Roses and tells how the Toliver family ended up in Texas. It was a good book all about family drama and the drama of the late 1800s and early 1900s in Texas. Not a life changing book, but a good one just to enjoy reading without having to think.
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A little over two years ago now, Somerset caught my eye in a cozy used bookshop.

I meant to read it once I finished with whatever I had been reading at the time, but then something else (read: library holds) came along. And maybe a part of me was hesitant to start it as I’m not a fan of Gone with the Wind. I finally decided it was time to pick this book up, and you know what?

I’m glad I did.

It took a couple of chapters before I became invested. Once I was I was hooked! It’s not only full of histor
I absolutely loved Roses and this is the prequel to it, which although I did not love to the same degree as Roses, I still really enjoyed it. I listened to the audio version and a lot of people did not care for the narrator. I do not understand what everyone's objections are. I enjoyed this narrator and hope to find other books that I want to read also narrated by her. The audio version is just over 22 hours and the book over 600 pages, I feel this could have been shortened somewhat and still ha ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Meacham knows how to write an intense family drama! I loved learning more about these families. Wasn't quite as enjoyable as Roses, but I do think it was nice to learn more about how Roses came to be.
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
BEST FAMILY SAGA - just like Gone With The Wind
Meacham returns to her beloved Tolivers and Warwicks in this prequel to her first best-seller, Roses. Spanning more than six decades, Somerset takes readers back to 1835 as Silas Toliver and Jeremy Warwick, younger sons of wealthy plantation owners, prepare to leave South Carolina in search of greater fortune in Texas.
Linda Shrum
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a terrific saga. My summation: a cross between “Lonesome Dive” and “Gone with the Wind”. Beautifully written and a glorious story of generations of three closely tied families through countless trials including the civil war.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an epic family saga. I absolutely loved the story, and do recommend the novel, but I must say I found it a little too heavy on the history lessons at times.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
The perfect book to finish off my reading year. I'm in love with Leila Meacham's storytelling!
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Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Other books in the series

Roses (2 books)
  • Roses (Roses, #2)

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