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Sonoma Rose    by Jennifer Chiaverini Amazon.com order for
Sonoma Rose
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Southern California in the early 1920s is the setting for Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini, a new Elm Creek Quilts novel to join the many others. Her fans will rejoice.

Rosa Diaz Barclay lives on a rye farm with her abusive husband John. While claiming they do not have the money to seek proper health care for two of the surviving four of their eight children, John engages in an unlawful pursuit and hoards the money gained from his new enterprise. They have already lost four children to a mysterious wasting disease and two of the four still living are ill with the same symptoms.

Rosa and her first love, Lars Jorgenson, flee to escape her cruel husband. They migrate to the wine country of California. Here they live as husband and wife, until what Rosa fears the most her husband finding them happens. They must deal with the resulting trauma as well as leaving the doctor who seems to be healing their beloved children.

I have not read any of Chiaverini's previous books but will remedy this error soon. Sonoma Rose proves to be compelling and very hard to put down. At times, the reader will probably feel some compassion for Rosa's husband John as he realizes that two of Rosa's children are not his.

Rosa is a very strong woman who at first seems resigned to her fate. Conditions change but her resolve to save her children's lives never wavers. Nor does her love for Lars.

The travails of California's wine country during Prohibition rival the dust bowl times. Just something I had never given a thought to, but found interesting. As well as the introduction to raising wine grapes and the making of wine - also very interesting. The vindictiveness of the federal agents who sought out and destroyed barrels and barrels of fine wine makes one realize that times may change but the actions of officials don't. A little power goes a long way in their world.

Sonoma Rose is a good book that grabs the reader and doesn't let go. A few times, the narrative slows down - but hang on for a few more pages and things start moving again.

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