Tonight, I reviewed my first book on GoodReads. The work by Rose is purely Southern Fiction. It’s a small town story, which if you know anything about small towns, then you’ll expect serpentine back stories, secrets that are plain knowledge but held in silence, and interior lives that are vastly different from the public personae of the people involved. Rose’s work focuses on the town of Dogwood in southern Georgia during a time of social and cultural transition. Here, in the Deep South, things are slow to change–maddeningly so, in most cases–and the narrative evokes both the deeply laid cultural reasons for this, as well as the hunger for progress in social views and habits that is often embodied by a segment of every population.
The story moves lickety-split from the first page. The characters are vibrant and reminiscent of people I know, and the plot kept me interested. Yes, I’m from Georgia, and I read it in part because nostalgia is added to the water around here, much like fluoride. I just had to, but I was not disappointed. I was captivated and gratified. Rose even managed to elicit sympathy for Nell–an embittered, widowed gossip who stirred the community up for her own entertainment. But then, Nell’s story was also deeply layered in the silence that passes for secrecy in a small Georgia town.
I’d heard the book described as a Steel Magnolias type of story. However, beyond the fact that both narratives are generally Southern and follow the destinies of a close-knit community, I do not agree. Dogwood Blues is its own story, and I felt a closeness to each of the characters.
My only note of discord with the book was tied to personal preferences. There was a little too much emphasis on the Christian allusions, metaphors, similes, and references, which soured my enjoyment of the otherwise stellar plot. However, I grew up with that, and to a large extent, it’s an accepted part of the subculture. Overall, I’d give it five stars, in any event. This was a fantastic first offering from Rose, and I look forward to seeing what else she has in store.
Read a sample or purchase your own copy, here.