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In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes is Emily Arsenault's follow up to The Broken Teaglass, a novel previously reviewed here on the blog.  I was looking back at previous posts and when I clicked through Teaglass' I decided to head to amazon to see if Arsenault had published a follow up yet.  Sometimes these new authors can be tricky--some take forever to publish another novel, some never publish another novel.  I'm still waiting for Ronlyn Domingue's follow up novel to The Mercy of Thin Air--and I've been waiting five years for it!  I'm also wondering when Katherine Howe will publish a follow up novel to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.  Anyway I went to amazon and that's how found out Arsenault had published a second novel.

While Notes doesn't have as unique a premise as the setting of a dictionary company, poetry plays an integral role in this novel.  The narrative is split between 1990 in the months leading up to and those following the disappearance of Nora's best friend, Charlotte's babysitter, Rose, whom the girls idolized, and 2006 in the wake of the discovery of Rose's bones buried in wicker by a pond shore that spurs a short lived reunion between the currently estranged friends.

The 1990 narrative is told from the perspective of eleven year old Nora, who sees and intuits things about Rose that Charlotte doesn't see or refuses to acknowledge.  It's clear that there are currents of secrets running beneath the surface that eleven year old Nora cannot grasp.

The 2006 narrative sheds light on the current estrangement, personalities and dispositions of Charlotte and Nora as they recall that last summer with Rose and struggle to make sense of the discovery of her body so many years later.  Communication between the two friends is stinted, frought with their shared assumptions regarding past history, marked by the tragedy of Rose's disappearance, and prone to misunderstandings due to false assumptions.

When Nora discovers a series of anonymous poems entitled "You" that were published in the high school literary magazine her senior year, years after Rose's disappearance and then discovers Rose's long forgotten dream log the girls kept that long ago summer, Nora realizes the poems were drawn verbatim from Rose's dream log.  Both Nora and Charlotte each assume the other wrote and submitted the poems only to find that neither of them did.  But if neither girl wrote the poems, then who did?  And how are they connected to Rose's disappearance?

This is a novel as much about the boundaries and dynamics of friendship as it is a mystery about a disappeared girl.  The story of Nora, Rose, and Charlotte easily and completely sucks the reader into its pages and the novel reads fast.  The characters are distinctly drawn--though readers will find themselves exasperated with Charlotte.  Ultimately the resolution is quietly devastating.

I recommend you check this book out the next time you visit the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


RAD said…
A random Google search called up your post. Your wait will continue, but it's finite. I accepted a two book, world rights deal with Atria Books, which published MERCY. Anticipated release dates for the forthcoming novels (a prequel and a sequel, but not related to the first novel at all) are Spring 2013 and Spring 2014. Expect the unexpected! Thanks for your interest, Ms. Angie.

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