cover image Half-Blown Rose

Half-Blown Rose

Leesa Cross-Smith. Grand Central, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5387-5516-7

A woman grapples with love and the emotional turmoil that comes with it in the long-winded latest from Cross-Smith (This Close to Okay). In Paris, 44-year-old Vincent works as an art teacher. She also makes jewelry, entertains friends in a posh apartment, and is embroiled in a love affair with Loup, one of her students. Though her life may seem like an expat’s dream, she’s there because her estranged husband, Cillian, published a bombshell of an autofictional novel revealing his past relationship with another woman, which involved a secret pregnancy. Now, Vincent emails with Cillian’s ex, Siobhan, and Cillian and Siobhan’s son, Tully, with whom she unexpectedly becomes fast friends. After Vincent’s work visa expires, she is forced to choose between her former life with Cillian and the new one she’s built in Paris. Cross-Smith offers a refreshing take on a woman’s story of midlife upheaval, but there isn’t much in the way of narrative momentum, and Vincent’s vacillation between Cillian and Loup ends up feeling like the author is merely spinning her wheels. This has its moments, but it’s not Cross-Smith’s best. Agent: Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown. (June)