The Rose Beyond
Gilder’s floridly-written (“raven lashes,” “flaxen-haired,” and “endless void” crop up in the first two pages alone, and “manse” is used for “mansion” so often you will be saying it yourself by the time you finish the book) novel takes place mostly in a Washington, D. C. poised to enter the twentieth century, and focuses on the upper-society circles of the Hargrove family and its forbidding patriarch. When disruption enters this family’s placid life from the most unlikely quarter – a tiny village a world away in Wales – old family secrets are laid bare and all the Hargrove generations must deal with a series of revelations Gilder deploys with a good deal of narrative skill. She frequently overdoes the rococo period speech (the Hargrove daughter’s announcement that she’s leaving home – “I feel an uncompromising desire to part the embrace of this fair city and return to visit England and Wales” – isn’t the only line that’s unintentionally funny), but she layers her story with such lush period color and unabashed emotion that readers will be swept away.
Gilder has matched her Whartonesque setting with a Whartonesque narrative tone that she manages to carry off almost to perfection. Recommended.