The Rose of Winslow Street

Written by Elizabeth Camden
Review by Waheed Rabbani

On a hot humid night in late May 1879, spinster Libby Sawyer and her father are out on the lawn of her brother’s vacation cottage on St. Catherine’s Island, Massachusetts, watching a lunar eclipse. A telegram arrives informing them that their house on the mainland, Colden, has been occupied by “a pack of gypsies.” The encroachers are a family from Romania, headed by Michael, a 36-year-old burly widower, along with his two children, a sister and two henchmen. What makes matters worse is that they have papers showing the property was willed to them. Hence, the local sheriff allows them possession until the ownership is settled by the courts. The ‘homeless’ Sawyers are drawn into a legal battle which reminds us of Dickens’ Bleak House.

Camden has penned a superb inspirational historical fiction novel. She has given most of the characters, especially Libby and Michael, both qualities and flaws to capture our attention. The house itself reveals ancient religious artifacts, but while these are not as mesmerizing as those from Da Vinci Code, they are compelling. A parallel theme, of newcomers’ behavior and treatment by residents, runs throughout the novel. Court cases usually satisfy only one party; Camden’s unique ending is bound to satisfy most readers.