Deborah Doucette’s The Forgotten Roses blends mystery and suspense with lessons about marriage, child-rearing, and self-identity in a unique novel that captivates readers with its many plotlines. Set in the fictional town of Havenwood, New Hampshire, Doucette’s characters wind their ways through the sleepy New England town that offers its inhabitants much more variety to their days than any post-card depicting a standard lighthouse set along the Atlantic coast could ever represent. In fact, the hypocritical nature of setting and characterization exemplifies Doucette’s most important lesson: the face of a person or place often is only a shadow of what lies inside.
In a blend questioning, parenting, rebellion, and mystery, Doucette’s novel brings abnormality to what would normally come across as a common experience. Her characters seem ordinary: a working mother, a busy father, and two daughters weaving daily lives around jobs, school, and family obligations. Doucette layers her novel with complications, however, that make The Forgotten Roses stand out amongst competitor novels of straight romance or friendships plots. The teenager daughter, for example, is not merely of rebellious nature—instead, she actively pursues avenues of danger and uses language that cuts down adults; the female lead, a mother as well as a real estate broker, often chooses actions that many people probably consider taking but would never follow through with in real life. Throw in glimpses of the female lead’s extended Italian family and Doucette has created a world of the senses readers can only dream about.
The Forgotten Roses is a novel of many facets; readers need to prepare themselves for a litany of plots that at times do not seem to coincide. Like Doucette’s lesson about identity (mentioned above), her symbolism for the novel’s themes is two-fold: Havenwood, roses, houses, and a prison—amongst other places and objects—not only serve to move along the story but also to bring readers a fuller meaning of the author’s lessons. Nevertheless, remembering the various plotlines and their purpose holistically when, for a majority of the story, they seem to have no relevance to one another can be cumbersome to the reader. Chapters are short, and each one focuses on a different subplot and character’s point of view. Have a pen and paper by your side to jot down notes since the rapid switching is anything but smooth.
Pick up Doucette’s novel for a reading experience that combines love and mystery in a manner different than common boy-meets-and-saves-girl. The author’s plot is creative and her style unique in that suspense truly holds out until the end of the novel. While enjoyable for its differences from standard romance or mystery novels, The Forgotten Roses still is only for the most adventurous of readers because stylistically the book lacks in plot comprehension and its end is inconclusive.
An alumna of the University of Delaware’s English department, Marisa holds a Master’s degree in professional writing from New England College. Her dream job is to work as an editor for a publishing company. A voracious reader of all types of literature, her favorite genres include the classics, contemporary and historical fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s “chick-lit”.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Deborah Doucette. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.