cover image A ROSE BY THE DOOR


Deborah Bedford, . . Warner, $11.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-446-67789-9

Warner's new Christian list is off to a solid start with this story of faith and loss, wrapped around the motif of yellow pioneer roses. Lonely Beatrice Bartling is stunned when she learns that her estranged son, Nathan, has been killed in an accident. As she grieves, she becomes angry with God, who has "shut the door on her lifelong prayer" of seeing Nathan again. Bea's bitterness makes her cautious when the bedraggled young Gemma and her four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Paisley, show up on her doorstep, homeless and claiming to be Nathan's family. In her overwhelming sorrow, Bea rejects them both, and they are soon arrested as vagrants. But as Mabel Perkins, the curator of the Garden County Pioneer Museum, observes, "No matter what happens at that house, those roses are always blooming." Redemption and hope are just around the corner. Although the novel starts slowly, the writing is strong and the narrative soon clips along at an even pace. Bedford is adept at avoiding the obvious; she astutely blends irony, humor and sweetness into the tale without allowing it to become cloying. There's a touch of mystery—who was Nathan's brother, Jacob, and why did Nathan reject his family?—and just enough withheld information to sustain the pace. Delightful descriptive passages and a cast of engaging characters will please readers who like happy endings and enjoy fiction with a spiritual dimension. (Nov.)