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What Rose Forgot


What Rose Forgot

While I do not reflexively reach for Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon mysteries on a regular basis, I was strongly intrigued by the premise of her newly published stand-alone novel. WHAT ROSE FORGOT is not only a well-written and addicting work, but also an important one, and surpassed all of my expectations.

The “Rose” of the title is a seasoned citizen named Rose Dennis. It takes her some time to remember not so much her name but rather who she is. That would be (in no particular order) a former resident of New Orleans, a current resident of Charlotte, NC, a “lucrative” painter of some renown, the widow of her beloved Harley, and the grandmother of Mel, the most adorable pre-adolescent female who ever walked the face of the earth. As the book opens, Rose somehow has managed to haphazardly escape from a so-called “memory care” unit in Longwood, a tony assisted living facility. She is the walking definition of “befuddled” when we first meet her --- hardly dressed for company, and unsure of how she got outside, precisely where she is, why she is there and where she has been.

"WHAT ROSE FORGOT is not only a well-written and addicting work, but also an important one, and surpassed all of my expectations."

Rose is quickly gathered up and returned to the protective, if not warm and loving, embrace of Longwood. She discerns with what little clarity she has --- which increases once she begins squirreling away her pills --- that she doesn’t belong there, notwithstanding what (almost) everyone tells her. Yes, her behavior is bizarre, but it always has been, and as her mental haziness clears in direct correlation to the growing number of pills she collects, she becomes convinced that her confusion is due to her medication regimen rather than the rapid-onset Alzheimer’s with which she has been diagnosed.

It isn’t long before Rose executes another escape, which benefits from more planning and some assistance from her reclusive but extremely capable sister and her granddaughter. Uppermost in Rose’s mind, besides not getting caught, is who is behind her medical incarceration. It could be literally anyone, from her two stepsons and/or their ex-wives to her deceased husband’s ex-wife to...well, almost anyone. Rose eventually figures things out in a manner that, while not entirely believable, is extremely entertaining, and sets out to right wrongs and turn tables. The odds are long, but the moral of the story is that one should never sell elderly folks short.

Barr’s latest should be required reading for anyone over 60. Many in this age group have loving, caring children, but it’s always a good idea to keep your head up and watch for the manifestation of signs and symptoms. WHAT ROSE FORGOT doesn’t forget any of them.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 20, 2019

What Rose Forgot
by Nevada Barr

  • Publication Date: July 28, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250208025
  • ISBN-13: 9781250208026