Roses is an enthralling novel that tells the story of how a piece of land can tear a family apart for generations. Mary Toliver DuMont begins the novel as an old woman on a mission. Aware of the cancer rapidly deteriorating her otherwise commanding, proud frame, she makes one last trip to her lawyer. Her lawyer, Amos, is an old friend and he is completely shocked at the desired changes Mary is making to her will. Although dazed at her revelations, Amos is resigned to obey her wishes. After returning home, Mary prepares for her unannounced trip to her niece, Rachel. It is imperative that Mary explains to Rachel the changes she has made to her will. She is prepared for Rache’s hurt and anger that were sure to come from the news, but Mary is determined on not allowing Rachel to make the same mistake she did; loving the Toliver farm, Somerset, more than anyone else in the world. Despite the balmy Texas heat, Mary sits on her veranda with a glass of champagne while the past creeps up on her.
The reader is then transported back to the early 1900s when Mary, at the tender age of 15, inherits all of Somerset after her father’s death. Believing in a Toliver curse, Mary’s father bequeathed everything to his young daughter hoping that his wife and son would understand. Unfortunately, Mary becomes ostracized by her mother and brother, but that doesn’t stop her from taking the reins of the large cotton plantation. As a strong-minded, independent young woman, Mary’s dedication to her family’s land and loyalty to her father allows her to focus entirely on Somerset.
However, Mary’s heart is torn with the blossoming love she feels for one of her brother’s best friends, Percy Warwick. As the heir to a successful lumbering legacy the marriage between Percy and Mary would bring together the two most powerful businesses in the town of Howbutker, Texas. Despite all of her attempts, Mary can’t help but fall for the handsome Percy. These two young lovers plan their marriage, but although her love for Percy is strong, Mary’s love for Somerset is stronger. She decides to postpone their wedding until after the cotton harvest. Fed up with being put second to a stretch of land, Percy flees to Canada to clear his mind and try to forget about Mary Toliver.
Percy and Mary remain closer throughout the rest of their lives even though they married different people. It takes many years for Mary to understand the Toliver curse her father tried to save her from When she finally takes Somerset out of her primary focus, it’s too late. She had already lost all that she loved which is why she is so determined to save her niece from the same fate.
Roses are an important symbolism throughout the novel. When the fictional town of Howbutke rwas founded, the two powerful families, the Tolivers and Warwicks, had panted large rose garden on their estates. These rose gardens represented their ancestors who fought in the historic War of the Roses. In Roses, the color of the flower is extremely important. A red rose is used to ask forgiveness. A white signifies forgiveness and a pink rose states un-forgiveness.