Author: Joan Sowards
Publisher: Walnut Springs Press
Paperback: 233 pages
Janie Rose Whitaker's world revolved around her chocolate shop until Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from Janie's. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the "perfect" guy, but soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever. Though she resists getting involved in Roger's complicated life, they are drawn further into a bittersweet relationship.
When I first heard of this new book by author, Joan Sowards, entitled "Chocolate Roses: A Jane Eyre Parody...An LDS Novel" I was intrigued. Not only was the topic about one of my favorite things, chocolate, but it was also about one of my favorite classics, Jane Eyre By
Charlotte Bronte. If you are not familiar with Jane Eyre (gasp!!) then here is a basic outline of this classic.
The story starts as Jane suffers life under Mrs. Reed who hates her and treats her poorly. At the age of 10, Jane is sent by Mrs. Reed to a boarding school called Lowood. Jane goes to the school, and despite efforts by Mrs. Reed to make her life hard, Jane enjoys the school and excels in her studies. She stays at the school making many friends (one of whom died of an illness) and becoming a teacher for two years. At the end of the two years, her favorite teacher, Mrs. Temple, gets married and leaves the school. Jane finds little purpose in staying at the school and advertises for a position as governess. She finds a job working for Mr. Rochester teaching a young French girl named Adele at Thornfield. As she teaches there a while, she falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and he falls in love with her. They plan to get married, but on the wedding day, it is found out that Mr. Rochester has a living wife. He confesses it but shows them that his wife is a lunatic. Jane leaves during the night as is homeless and destitute for a few days. She is taken in by the Rivers and lives with them for a while. St. John Rivers finds her a job teaching at a local country school and she does so for a while. St. John Rivers eventually informs Jane that a close relative of hers had died and left his fortune of 20 thousand pounds to her. Finding out that she and the Rivers are cousins, she splits the fortune between the four of them. St. John plans to leave for India as a missionary and wants to take Jane with him as a wife. Jane refuses. After John leaves to say bye to some acquaintances, Jane leaves in search of Mr. Rochester, only to find Thornfield burned down by Rochester’s lunatic wife. Jane inquires about him and finds out that he is living at Ferndean, another of his houses. She goes there and finds Mr. Rochester blind and crippled. They fall in love and get married.
That is a really watered down version of Jane Eyre, but you get the idea. I wondered, how would Joan take this classic and put it into a modern day story? Let's just say, she did a fantastic job.
The main character Janie is likable from the start. She is 27 years old and still single. In the LDS world, that is not necessarily a fun thing to be. I can say this, because at 27 I was still single. I could relate to everything she was lamenting about. The thing I loved about Janie, is the way that she tries so hard to include humor into her outlook on life. Her best friend is her dog "Flo", her great Dane. I haven't read a book in a long time, where a pet had so much personality! Flo is her best friend that is always there for her, keeping her sane throughout the story.
Another great aspect of this book, is how well Joan writes all of her characters, not just the main female and male leads. All of the people who work in Janie's chocolate shop are also well developed and have fun side stories.
As for the main male character, it took me awhile to warm up to him. I think that is the way Joan wanted it to be. Janie has been in love with this man she sees once a week. He hardly ever says anything to her, but she still falls for his good looks. The conflict of course is when Janie realizes he is married; this is after she has also become attached to Roger Wentworth's 4 year old daughter. Mixed in with this story is a murder mystery and a little bit of blackmail. Of course, let us not forgt about about the "crazy" wife that is jealous of Janie.
One last thing that I want to add, is that this book holds to LDS standards and covers much about LDS culture. Someone that is not LDS would still like this book and not feel preached to. In conclusion, this is a fun, satisfying and tasty read.
WARNING: Have chocolate on hand before reading, or a trip to the store will be necessary in order to continue reading.
Joan Sowards and Walnut Springs Press have a fantastic contest where you can win some prizes, including a copy of this book. Read the details down below! We have two great prizes up for grabs! Win either a copy of the book (2 winners) or this fabulous apron created by Joan!
What's your favorite type of chocolate: white, dark, or milk?
The more blogs you comment on the more entries you'll receive.
All comments must be left by midnight MST on August 8 to be eligible.
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Chocolate Roses can be purchased
from Deseret Book, Amazon, and of
course your local LDS bookstore.
FTC: I received a free copy of this book from Walnut Springs Press. In no way did this influence me and the review that was written about this book.