Skip to main content

Brooklyn Rose

Review

Brooklyn Rose

In BROOKLYN ROSE author Ann Rinaldi delicately portrays how very different life was. Rose Frampton, the main character, is a fifteen-year-old southern belle who lives at the birth of a new century, 1900.

Told in a journal format over the course of nearly a year, the book allows the reader to explore Rose's deepest thoughts. First, we see Rose as a schoolgirl, living with her parents, younger brother, and older sister on a farm. It took years for Rose's family to recover from the war with "the Yankees." Farms and homes were destroyed, and it took some time for businesses to return and be able to thrive. At last, the Framptons are doing okay. They grow cotton and breed horses. Although only a teenager, Rose is reflective about history and its effect on both her and her family. She thinks not only of the past, but also of the future. We know early on that Rose is a brave girl who will speak her mind. In one entry she says:

"Oh, sometimes the future frightens me so much, I don't want to grow up. I want to be a young girl forever. But I do have opinions. We were brought up in this family to have opinions, but Mama says a proper young lady shouldn't voice hers too loudly or her husband will think her forward and brash. And so I am forward and brash. My husband will just have to abide by me."

Rose isn't ready to grow up, but her seventeen-year-old sister Heppi is. Heppi has a beau named Josh Denning and it is rumored that they will marry. Rose feels uneasy about marriage. She knows her parents are already thinking about marrying off their two daughters, but she admits that she still feels like a child.

During the last day of 1899, Heppi and Josh are at last engaged. Also, a wealthy businessman from Charleston has been introduced to Rose and her family. The man's name is Rene Dumarest. He is talking business with her father, but as time continues he also starts talking with Rose, and on occasion goes for a horse ride with her. This newcomer is around for Heppi and Josh's wedding. Soon after, Rene Dumarest has a long meeting with Rose's father. Rene has asked for Rose's hand in marriage.

Upon learning the news, Rose says:

"But I'm only fifteen," was the first thing that came to mind.

"Your mother was fifteen when we wed," Daddy said.

Then Mama said, "You like Rene, don't you, Rose? I've seen how you look at him."

"Yes but not as a husband. I mean, I'm not in love with him."

"That will come later," Mama answered, "like it did with your father and me. He was sixteen years older than me. And we made a good marriage."

It is only three months in to 1900, and Rose's world now has drastically changed, from southern schoolgirl to married Yankee wife. Rose and Rene move to Brooklyn, New York, where Rene conducts his silk business. Rose's role in the world shifts as she learns to live a new life as a mistress of a large Victorian estate who runs a household. Not only must she adapt to marriage and a new house, she also has to adjust to the north and her new home in Brooklyn. Over the course of the story, the reader witnesses how Rose blossoms from a child to a woman.

BROOKLYN ROSE is a truly enjoyable read. Ann Rinaldi is a vivid storyteller who intricately loops in historical details. There is an author's note at the end of the book that tells us that the story is largely based on Rinaldi's true grandparents, Rose and Rene. It is clear from the start that the author has put a lot of love into this tale.

Reviewed by Kristi Olson on January 1, 2005

Brooklyn Rose
by Ann Rinaldi

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2005
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 0152051171
  • ISBN-13: 9780152051174