Roses

by Leila Meacham |

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NOVEL

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

People PICK

Like Gone with the Wind, this 600-page, multigenerational epic is as gloriously entertaining as it is vast. Roses follows the lives of three powerful families in eastern Texas: The Tolivers (cotton), the Warwicks (lumber), and the DuMonts (retail). Set over seven decades, the story unfurls at a decadently unhurried pace, with the life of beautiful Mary Toliver at its heart. After Mary inherits the family plantation just before WWI, her mother and brother, feeling betrayed, turn against her. When Percy Warwick, the man she loves, asks her to give up planting cotton to be a wife and mother, Mary forsakes her lover rather than abandon her beloved "Somerset." Percy and Mary (like Scarlett and Rhett) are made for each other, but misunderstandings and tragedies keep them apart.

An elderly woman when the novel begins, Mary finally grapples with what her devotion to Somerset has cost her. Hoping to save Rachel, her great-niece and heir, from the same fate, she sells the plantation and changes her will. Meacham, who wrote Roses twenty-five years ago and didn't rework the manuscript until she retired, has Mary and Percy each tell their story. When Rachel learns of her aunt's seeming betrayal, she makes the two narratives one as she uncovers family secrets that will change her life. A delightful tale of love, obsession and regret, Roses transports.

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity

by Kate Braestrup |

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REVIEWED BY ANNE LESLIE

MEMOIR

Chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, Kate Braestrup has survived tragedy (the death of her first husband, chronicled in Here If You Need Me) and regularly stands witness to the sorrows of others. Through it all, she keeps her feet on the ground and her faith and humor intact. She uses real-life stories to contemplate love, loss and religion, and by sharing her struggle toward understanding she shines the way for us. "It is certainly possible that love isn't the most important thing in human life," she muses. "God knows, churches fail, and I fail at love with embarrassing frequency ..." Still, "here I am, my head ... bent down before my folded, tainted hands, praying." Braestrup's book asks us to stay open to grace.

Fun with Problems

by Robert Stone |

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REVIEWED BY KYLE SMITH

STORIES

The "problems" in question are drink and drugs, yet here inner chaos has an almost gentlemanly sheen. In the title story, a lawyer picks up a pretty psychologist and couches his drunken mistreatment of her in stately tones. Other stories, fraught with rough poetry, feature louts who are blackly funny on the subject of self-destruction. As one puts it, "She kept her ghosts close at hand and always on call."

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

by Beth Hoffman |

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REVIEWED BY LIZA HAMM

NOVEL

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt has been cursed with a crazy mother who parades around town in old beauty-pageant gowns. Thankfully her great-aunt Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah after tragedy strikes. Not a whole lot happens in this debut novel, but anyone in need of a southern-girl-power fix will find it engaging. And it offers an invaluable reminder: Even when things look bleak, a few good friends can turn your life around.

>WHAT TO EAT, HOW TO CHAT, WHEN TO LOOSEN UP

FOOD RULES

by Michael Pollan

Avoid "cereals that change the color of the milk," and more from the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

A GOOD TALK

by Daniel Menaker

The uniquely human art of conversation, celebrated and deconstructed. Stop texting and check it out.

LIVE A LITTLE!

by Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar

Go ahead: have a cookie and skip the gym (now and then). A primer on healthy rule-breaking.

>• A pediatrician, journalist and mother of four, Randi Hutton Epstein researched the history of pregnancy and childbirth for her new book, Get Me Out. She uncovered some surprising facts.

1 TOO MUCH ADVICE GOES WAY BACK

"In medieval times, a book written by monks called Women's Secrets gave explicit pregnancy tips. God knows why anyone listened to monks."

2 THERE WERE DO-IT-YOURSELF FORCEPS

"Invented by Italians in the 1800s. They never took off."

3 MODESTY ONCE RULED

"Doctors put a tent over you, used forceps and delivered the baby without looking. Wealthy husbands didn't like their wives seen naked."

4 NATURAL, SHMATURAL

"In the early 20th century, feminists pushed for women's right to be knocked out completely in childbirth."

5 SMART GIRLS CAN'T

"When women's colleges started, women were told all their energy was going to their brains so it was harder for them to push out a baby."

>Where did Bruce Eric Kaplan get the title of his new book? It's "a theory I once heard," he writes. "Everything we do, we do for one of [those] three reasons." It's hunger, for instance, that drives the former Seinfeld writer to cartoon. "What is our place in the world?" he says. "Why do we do things we do? I'm trying to make sense of what happens to me." So don't tell him his cartoons are funny. Says Kaplan: "I couldn't take them more seriously."

>WHAT TO EAT, HOW TO CHAT, WHEN TO LOOSEN UP

FOOD RULES

by Michael Pollan

Avoid "cereals that change the color of the milk," and more from the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

A GOOD TALK

by Daniel Menaker

The uniquely human art of conversation, celebrated and deconstructed. Stop texting and check it out.

LIVE A LITTLE!

by Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar

Go ahead: have a cookie and skip the gym (now and then). A primer on healthy rule-breaking.

>• A pediatrician, journalist and mother of four, Randi Hutton Epstein researched the history of pregnancy and childbirth for her new book, Get Me Out. She uncovered some surprising facts.

1 TOO MUCH ADVICE GOES WAY BACK

"In medieval times, a book written by monks called Women's Secrets gave explicit pregnancy tips. God knows why anyone listened to monks."

2 THERE WERE DO-IT-YOURSELF FORCEPS

"Invented by Italians in the 1800s. They never took off."

3 MODESTY ONCE RULED

"Doctors put a tent over you, used forceps and delivered the baby without looking. Wealthy husbands didn't like their wives seen naked."

4 NATURAL, SHMATURAL

"In the early 20th century, feminists pushed for women's right to be knocked out completely in childbirth."

5 SMART GIRLS CAN'T

"When women's colleges started, women were told all their energy was going to their brains so it was harder for them to push out a baby."

>Where did Bruce Eric Kaplan get the title of his new book? It's "a theory I once heard," he writes. "Everything we do, we do for one of [those] three reasons." It's hunger, for instance, that drives the former Seinfeld writer to cartoon. "What is our place in the world?" he says. "Why do we do things we do? I'm trying to make sense of what happens to me." So don't tell him his cartoons are funny. Says Kaplan: "I couldn't take them more seriously."