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Rose Variations [Paperback]

Marisha Chamberlain
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 2010
In 1975, twenty-five-year-old Rose takes a temporary professorship at a Midwestern college, convinced that an exciting career as a composer lies ahead. Determined to be independent, she struggles with love, ambition, and the perplexing question of happiness.

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Product Description

About the Author

Marisha Chamberlain is a playwright, screenwriter, fiction writer, and poet. Her book of poems, Powers, won a Minnesota Voices Award. She lives in Hastings, Minnesota. This is her first novel.

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4.0 out of 5 stars More than meets the eye March 30 2009
Format:Hardcover
Rating 4.5

The Rose Variations begins in 1975, and follows the story of Rose McGregor, who has just moved to Minnesota to teach music at a Midwestern college. She is on her own for the first time and must cope with academia's complex inner world, and being the only female faculty in the music department, she has her work cut out for her. Soon enough, Rose befriends some other members of the staff which only complicates her life even more.

After falling in love with a local stonemason named Guy, their affair is ripped apart by a bold choice Rose secretly makes and so she runs off to live with a group of female musicians in the countryside after being invited by the homeowner, an eccentric cellist named Lila. As soon as Rose is settled in her routine, her pregnant sister Natalie shows up in need of assistance, and Rose's life is turned upside down once again. The second part of the book takes places a number of years later as Rose's niece shows up on her doorstep by herself with no explanation, complicating Rose's life yet again. The narrative continues with more romances for Rose but even more heartache as she struggles with her independence and success in the face of many obstacles.

This book has so much more to it than meets the eye. What started off as a small story of a young woman develops into a complex saga filled with many love interests, friends, and the pain of betrayal from those who Rose loves the most. This is such a difficult story to summarize because its impossible to capture all of the depth and storylines. This is Marisha Chamberlain's first novel, however it came as no surprise to me that she is also an accomplished playwright, given the elaborate and dramatic story she has created.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Rose MacGregor Feb. 8 2009
By Margaret Hasse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In THE ROSE VARIATIONS, a young woman named Rose MacGregor, just out of graduate school, arrives in a new city to assume her first real job and to look for love in all the right and wrong places. Freud famously asserted that "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness." As Rose explores her creativity, sexuality, relationships with other women, and ambivalence about commitment, her story grows more lively, complex, and surprising. Rose -- passionate, talented, strong-willed, and big-hearted -- strides through the pages of the book and into the pantheon of fiction's remarkable characters. The author's skill as poet is evident in the novel's beautiful language, just as her background as a playwright is shown in the vitality of the dialogue.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than meets the eye March 30 2009
By Sheri S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Rating 4.5

The Rose Variations begins in 1975, and follows the story of Rose McGregor, who has just moved to Minnesota to teach music at a Midwestern college. She is on her own for the first time and must cope with academia's complex inner world, and being the only female faculty in the music department, she has her work cut out for her. Soon enough, Rose befriends some other members of the staff which only complicates her life even more.

After falling in love with a local stonemason named Guy, their affair is ripped apart by a bold choice Rose secretly makes and so she runs off to live with a group of female musicians in the countryside after being invited by the homeowner, an eccentric cellist named Lila. As soon as Rose is settled in her routine, her pregnant sister Natalie shows up in need of assistance, and Rose's life is turned upside down once again. The second part of the book takes places a number of years later as Rose's niece shows up on her doorstep by herself with no explanation, complicating Rose's life yet again. The narrative continues with more romances for Rose but even more heartache as she struggles with her independence and success in the face of many obstacles.

This book has so much more to it than meets the eye. What started off as a small story of a young woman develops into a complex saga filled with many love interests, friends, and the pain of betrayal from those who Rose loves the most. This is such a difficult story to summarize because its impossible to capture all of the depth and storylines. This is Marisha Chamberlain's first novel, however it came as no surprise to me that she is also an accomplished playwright, given the elaborate and dramatic story she has created.

At first it seemed like Chamberlain was attempting to tackle too many storylines and issues, however, after reading on, I began to discover that each event in Rose's life has shaped her on some way and is a crucial part of the story. I think that is particularly why I was disappointed with the story's ending because after having read so much about Rose's life, I was left to interpret and imagine where life will take her next. There are many unanswered questions and having developed a connection to Rose and her struggles and passion for life, I was sad that I didn't get the closure that I felt I needed as a reader.

Nontheless, The Rose Variations ia a complex character study of a very interesting and admirable woman and ultimately is a worthwhile read. Not only is the narrative captivating, but the writing is so well developed and expertly exposes Rose's inner thoughts and emotions. I hope to read more from Ms. Chamberlain in the future.

[...]
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable in an unexpected way... June 18 2009
By Jennifer Allison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is more a character study of someone who happens to be a music professor and composer, and much of the narrative covers her life away from the classroom. This was a bit of a disappointment to me, because my interest in that aspect of the character was one of the main reasons I bought the book. But I still enjoyed it. There were a lot of quirky characters whose motivation for acting was not always clear, and it was fun for me to try to get inside their heads as I was reading. I probably would not have made a lot of the choices that Rose made. But that doesn't mean her life didn't hold any interest for me.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rose Variations Jan. 28 2009
By L Atwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a wonderful novel. The characters are complex and quirky. The story drew me in and it was difficult to put down. As a young woman growing up in the 70's, Rose's coming of age and difficulties as the sole woman in the music department really resonated with me. However, I know my daughter and son will enjoy this novel as much as I did. Lesley
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable historical character study Feb. 3 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In 1975, following her graduation at a Philadelphia school in which she was the only female in her class, twenty-five-year-old Rose MacGregor accept a temporary position as the token "Girl Composer at a St. Paul, Minnesota college. She arrives with almost nothing beyond a few T-shirts and her cello. Her only feminist ally in the music department is the secretary Frances Dupree.

She dreams of becoming a famous composer and finding true love; having spent her pre-graduate days growing up in New Hampshire and taking care of her younger sister Natalie. Rose blossoms in St. Paul as she falls in love although the romance ends sadly. She joins cellist Lila Goldensohn's all-female musical group and enjoys her time on her mentor's farm composing. That ends abruptly when a despondent pregnant Natalie arrives. After doing what comes naturally which is taking care of Natalie, Rose's music thrives while she continues her quest for love.

This is an enjoyable historical character study that takes the audience back to the early days of the feminist movement; affirming we have come a long way baby; if you have doubts look at sports with women dunking. The story line is owned by the appealing Rose who seeks musical accomplishments in her professional life and an interesting combination of self sufficiency with a love of a lifetime. Her eccentricity that flourishes with growing confidence due to her musical achievements make for an engaging tale in which the late 1970s have become historical.

Harriet Klausner
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