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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Six Stars for The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis

Every once in a while, I come across a work of literature, which is not only fascinating, entertaining, and moving, but which touches me on a deeper level. The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis is one of those books.

The Brevity of Roses is a story about love, the power and beauty of love as well as the fear it can trigger and the pain it can cause. Love is what the three main characters—Jalal, Meredith, and Renee—struggle with.

Jalal, a handsome American-Iranian poet from a well-to-do family escapes a life of drugs, alcohol, a career he hates, and a lot of superficial relationships by moving across the country from New York to California. He finds love and embraces it but when tragedy strikes, he withdraws from life. Underneath the shiny veneer he presents to the world, he is slowly dying. Meredith, an anthropologist, struggles with feelings of guilt toward her former husband which hold her back from giving her heart fully, and Renee, a waitress and survivor of childhood abuse and neglect, falls in love but when it gets serious, her first reaction is to run. But it is the tenacious Renee who ultimately manages to break down the walls Jalal has built around himself and forces him to face his demons, a grief so deep it threatens to undo him.

While reading this book, I was often reminded of a quotation by May Sarton in her book Mrs. Stephens Hears the Mermaids Singing: “Love opens the door into everything, as far as I can see, including, and perhaps most of all, the door into one’s secret, and often terrible and frightening, real self.”

The Brevity of Roses is a carefully crafted, beautifully told story. The characters are complex and believable, flawed but loveable. With vivid descriptions, the author manages to engage our senses, our thoughts, and our emotions. And, without any explicit love-making scenes, she creates a highly charged and sensuous atmosphere.

Masterful debut novel by a talented author. I look forward to more of her work.


  1. Thank you for this lovely review, Christa. And I'd considered it a well-written review, even if it wasn't for my book. :-)