For National Rose Month this June, pick up some entertaining “rosy” reads at the Library.
Start with a fast-paced mystery. Publishers Weekly states that The Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin “combines just the right amount of horticultural detail with well-drawn characters and an absorbing plot.” In this book, Alex and Kate Sheppard move into a house in the Wiltshire countryside surrounded by a walled garden that contains an impossible, perfect blue rose bush. Death and kidnapping ensue.
Author Leann Sweeney began her Yellow Rose Mystery series with Pick Your Poison. In this novel, the young Texan heiress Abby Rose turns into an amateur sleuth after finding the gardener dead – a victim of murder – in her greenhouse.
If you enjoy historical novels, pick up The Rose Grower by Michelle De Kretser. In “impeccably elegant prose” (Kirkus Reviews), this book takes place during the French Revolution. An American balloonist Stephen Fletcher crash lands in Southern France and becomes involved with the three Saint-Pierre sisters, including Sophie, who tends their beautiful rose garden.
For a romance, try Revenge of the Rose by Nicole Galland. This “clever novel of courtly love” (Publishers Weekly) set in the Holy Roman Empire of the twelfth century has a full set of characters from a fictional Holy Roman Emperor and his court minstrel to a knight and his beautiful sister, all involved in political plots and court secrets. Even a mysterious rose makes an appearance.
On the nonfiction side of the literary spectrum, try Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening. Freelance journalist Aurelia C. Scott reveals the world of “Roseaholics” and tracks this subculture of rose growers as they prepare and compete in the American Rose Society's National Rose Show.
A Rose by Any Name: The Little-Known Lore and Deep-Rooted History of Rose Names by Douglas Brenner and Stephen Scanniello tells the naming histories of over twelve hundred roses from those of the 16th century to modern hybrid teas. Far from dull, these histories include mystery, romance, tragedy, and comedy.
For a pictorial examination of roses, pick up The Rose: An Illustrated History by Peter Harkness which includes over 300 color botanical illustrations taken from the Royal Horticultural Society's archives. Publishers Weekly states this book is “handsome enough to sit on a coffee table but interesting enough for a reader's lap.”
Finally, In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher relates his personal journey searching for old roses, the “fragrant and beautiful flowers largely forgotten following the introduction of tea roses in 1867.” (Library Journal) His quest takes him from graveyards to abandoned backyards and his stories include tales from the many rose lovers he meets along the way.
Angela Kille is a librarian at the Kansas City Public Library.