Love and laughs in Rose O’ the River

Nineteen-year-old Rose Wiley’s good looks, personality, and cooking attract young men for miles around.

Foremost among them is Stephen Waterman, who, as the story opens is about to propose to Rose a fourth time.

Rose O’ the River by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Illus: George Wright. Grosset & Dunlap, 1905. 177 pp. 1905 bestseller #1.
Project Gutenberg ebook #1033. My Grade: B-.

Believing she loves Steve as much as she could love anyone, Rose accepts his proposal.

Rose would, however, like an opportunity to see the world, especially Boston.

While Steve builds the cottage they will share, a salesman from Boston sweet-talks Rose. Rose doesn’t love Claude; she just thinks he loves her.

After seeing them together, Steve releases her from their engagement.

She had imagined that Stephen would be his large-minded, great-hearted, magnanimous self, and beg her to forget this fascinating will-o’the-wisp.

Rose quickly finds out she’s better off in York County, Maine, with Steve than in Boston with Claude.

Kate Douglas Wiggin’s plot has many threads that don’t go anywhere: Steve’s recklessness at log driving, his brother’s blindness, the two local boys who come home as doctors, for example.

Wiggin’s characterization, too, seems off base.

She makes Steve and Rose only passably believable, but makes Rose’s grandparents memorable.

In the end, it’s the novel’s humor rather than its love story, that sticks in the mind.

© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni