Cover image for Victorian rose
Victorian rose
Palmer, Catherine, 1956-
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Publication Information:
Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, [2002]

Physical Description:
126 pages ; 19 cm
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This romantic story will sweep readers back in time to Victorian Yorkshire, England. Against her better judgment, young widow Clemma Laird finds herself connected to Dr. Paul Baine, a man shunned by the community. As she is drawn into Dr. Baine's lifework, she discovers the truth of his past and the pain that drives him to seek atonement. Palmer's fans will love this tender story.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Arrington attempts a modern version of John Bunyan's classic with her Pilgrim's Progress Today. It's not always elegant: the "slough of despond" becomes the "dump of despond," for instance. Still, there are moments of fine satire, as when along the road to the Celestial City the gullible Christian checks into a motel that contains every hollow electronic amenity and faux luxury--an effective send-up of modern business travel and our need to be entertained. Arrington's real target seems to be New Age morality, however, which to her mind is expressed in bad day care, careless sex, careerism, obsessive fitness, and bleak relativism. In the end, Arrington goes far afield from Bunyan, and it's not always clear what she means to satirize, but she's worth a look. Bacon's Year of Grace is the quiet story of Faith Smedley's last year on earth. A Quaker activist throughout her long life, she must now sit on the sidelines as younger versions of herself fight against the Vietnam War (it's 1968), but she votes for Humphrey and visits with old friends both in the U.S. and France. Finally, she moves to a remote cabin to seek unity with nature before dying and does indeed find grace--all the more convincingly because Bacon doesn't sugarcoat the pain of facing death. In fact, Faith shows such wondrous courage, such faith, that for the right sort of hospice patient her story could provide real solace. A governor is nearly assassinated and several Mexican American slaughterhouse workers are killed in the compelling opener of Bayer's Satan's Ring, a thriller about a white supremacist group pushing for domination of at least one state. Their sworn aim is to eliminate or at least render powerless all minority groups. The maverick investigator trying to stop them, Andrew Chapman, is as likable and tough as the heroes of thrillers usually are, and his renewed romance with his old girlfriend, a small-town prosecutor, is also agreeable. Unfortunately, the supremacists are merely stock villains, and one does not learn a great deal about them. Thus, the novel never really engages the issues it trades on and, given the events of 9/11, even seems dated. Cavanaugh's Postmarked Heaven is a pleasant though rather preachy gathering of testimonials from saints granted a special dispensation to write letters to the living. Imagine missionaries home from the field, testifying in church of their trials, and you'll have the idea. The saints are a Civil War physician, a martyr from the early history of Christianity, an Ethiopian witch doctor's daughter, and a superficial young screenwriter. Gansky's Dark Moon, in a way, is much ado about nothing. An amateur astronomer, Marcus Stiller, spots a red cloud on the Moon, and reluctantly becomes a confidant of the president over what soon is being called "Stiller's Enigma." Scientists can find no way to measure or explain the phenomenon, because it's the sign of the last days predicted in Revelation 6:12 and has no physical substance. Along the way the reader learns a great deal about the Moon and grows to like Marcus--not to mention Julie Waal, a mental patient who seems drawn to the Moon. But the suspense Gansky generates is a red herring, really. The enigma disappears. The world has been warned, and resumes its crazy trajectory. Olson and Ingermanson's Fifth Man is a sequel to their brilliant Oxygen [BKL Je 1 & 15 01]. The same crew, more or less marooned on Mars, returns, but not much happens by way of Mars exploration except for the discovery of ice. The crew's frantic journey to capture enough ice to manufacture escape fuel makes for some fine scenes, but the authors pump up suspense with the gimmick of a "fifth man" who might be a stowaway, an alien, or a figment. A convoluted sabotage plot back at NASA grows rather tiresome, too. Even so, this is a skilled writing team, and they've done their research. The sequel doesn't equal the original, but it's good stuff. Palmer's novella, A Victorian Rose, is a sort of watered-down Jane Eyre. A lonely artistand spinster, Clementine Laird, slowly falls in love with a physician who has a terrible reputation, Paul Baine. Clementine discovers the redeeming truth about Paul, and their romance--like the stubborn Christmas rose Clementine has been trying to cultivate--blooms in time for Christmas. The Memory Book follows a familiar Stokes formula: a modern woman finds spiritual guidance in the past. The heroine is Phoebe Lange, a likable professional who finishes graduate school and makes a long-overdue visit to her grandmother, who raised her. Phoebe then learns some surprising things: her father, who murdered her mother, is about to be paroled; and she had a great-aunt with the same name who died in a car crash on the night of her high-school graduation. In an Alice in Wonderland twist, Phoebe has a fall while reading her great-aunt's diary and drops back in time to live out her namesake's final days. The Memory Book is smoothly written, with well-drawn characters, but Stokes keeps rewriting The Blue Bottle Club (1999). Every year Tyndale issues a new anthology of Christmas romances. The entries of A Victorian Christmas Collection include "Tea for Marie," "Crosses and Losses," "The Beauty of the Season," and "Wishful Thinking." They are all by Stoks, and all are reprints from previous Tyndale anthologies. But like those previous anthologies, this one will circulate until it falls to pieces. And the price is right.

Library Journal Review

In 1839 Yorkshire, Clemma Laird, a gifted watercolor artist and widow, unexpectedly meets the reviled Dr. Paul Baine. Rumor has it that Paul's practice is immoral because he terminates unwanted pregnancies. Clemma learns that this was true early in his career but that Paul soon stopped performing the procedure and for many years has been seeking atonement by supporting unwed pregnant women and placing their children into good homes. She helps Paul accept Christ's gift of salvation, allowing love to bloom between them. Fans of the companion volume, English Ivy, and other titles by the award-winning Palmer will enjoy this light and tightly written romance. For more conservative collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Longley Park Conservatory Otley, Yorkshire-1839 "It refuses to bloom!" Clementine Laird glared at the leathery evergreen leaves of a small potted plant. "Why will it not produce any flowers for me, Mr. Hedgley? I have done all I can to coax it, coddle it, everything but tuck it into bed at night. Yet it sits there staring at me as though it has no intention of ever making a blossom-and all just to spite me." The old man's smile widened the wreath of wrinkles lining his weathered face. "It ain't time for t' Christmas Rose to bloom, Mrs. Laird," he said, giving the terra-cotta pot a turn. "It's barely November, and t' old girl don't usually set flowers till late January or February. Ye cannot 'urry a beautiful thing, me dear." "But I must hurry it!" Clemma set her hands on her hips and peered intently into the foliage, hoping to spot a bud. "I cannot exhibit my paintings unless I have a Christmas Rose among them. It is not enough to show holly and ivy, Mr. Hedgley. I must have a December flower, and the only one that blooms in that month is Helleborus niger -the Christmas Rose." "She don't 'ardly never bloom in December, me dear lady. I done told ye that near onto fifty times, I reckon." "But I have brought this plant inside the conservatory." Clemma spread her arms to encompass the vast glass-and-iron hall filled with ferns, bamboos, citrus trees, philodendrons, and other exotic plants. Surely such a living, warm, and very green place should lure the Helleborus blossoms out of hiding. "Indeed ye 'ave, but flowers listen to God more often than they listen to us. Can ye not recall t' words of Solomon? `To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under t' 'eaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.' Ye know them words as good as I do. And t' ones that follow' em: `'e' ath made every thing beautiful in 'is time.'" "Yes, but-" "'ose time?" "His time. God's time. Yes, I know, I know." Clemma let out a breath of resignation and turned away from the uncooperative plant. "But if that naughty Helleborus has failed to bloom by Christmas Eve, then I shall be forced to title my exhibition something other than `A Year of Flowers in Yorkshire,' and I shall be severely annoyed. Did I tell you, Mr. Hedgley, that I have invited the renowned publisher, Mr. Street, to come to Otley all the way from London? He has seen my other paintings and is quite interested in this collection. I have great hope that my work finally may be made into a book." "Aye, ye 'ave told me," he said. "Frequently." Clemma seated herself at a table upon which she had gathered a collection of late autumn flora-chrysanthemums, asters, rose hips, and ears of ripe wheat. Although she had planned to paint each month's flowers at the height of their bloom, in midsummer she had fallen behind schedule. Now the chrysanthemums were past their prime, and the asters had begun to droop. She must get them into water immediately or her entire project was likely to wilt as well. "Will you stay to tea, Mr. Hedgley?" she asked as she began stripping away dead leaves. "I expect it will be brought down from the great house at any moment. You are more than welcome to join me." "Nay, but thank ye, Mrs. Laird, for I must be gettin' back to me own cottage lest Mrs. 'edgley give me a piece of 'er mind. Farewell, then." "Good afternoon, Mr. Hedgley." Clemma hardly noticed the old man as he moved down the path inside the conservatory. Absorbed in arranging the asters in a vase, she felt a flutter of panic in her stomach. This exhibition of her art was the most important thing to happen to her in many years, and she was determined to make it a success. Raised near the little Yorkshire town of Otley, she had always dreamed of sailing the seven seas, riding horseback across the American frontier, bowing before Indian maharajas, and finding the source of the Nile. But at her father's insistence, she had followed the example of her three elder sisters and married young. It was a blessed union, for not only had Clemma loved Thomas Laird, but marrying him had made her the mistress of a fine manor and the wife of a wealthy man. Not a full year into the marriage, however, their grand home was struck by lightning. It caught fire and burned to the ground. Thomas perished in the blaze. Clemma, who was badly injured, had deeply mourned the death of her young husband. She moved back to the family home of Brooking House to recover, and slowly she assumed full care for her aging parents. Somehow, in the years that drifted by, her dreams of adventure and passion faded. She took lessons in the art school housed at nearby Longley Park, and she spent most of her time painting flowers inside the great conservatory. Now, at thirty-two, she knew she would never remarry, and she was far too settled to explore Africa or sail away to India. She was, she realized, a bit dull. Gazing at the chrysanthemums she had placed in the vase with the asters, she leaned her elbows on the table and rested her chin in her hands. Dull. Dispirited. Boring. How had she withered away to such a pale vestige of her former self? How had she let herself become so ... "No!" she cried out, slapping her hands down on the table and pushing herself up. She would not succumb to this spirit of defeat that assailed her. Grasping a stick of charcoal, she turned to her easel and began to sketch the outline of the simple glass vase. God had blessed her with a good life, and she was a happy woman. She needed nothing, no one. "Excuse me, miss!" The voice came from the far end of the conservatory. It was the footman with the tea. "Put it on the small table in the niche near the palm trees," Clemma called. "I do hope you warmed the milk this time." "I beg your pardon?" She glanced around the frame of her canvas at the footman. Tall and broad shouldered, he stared at her with icy blue eyes. Why was he not wearing his livery? Clemma wondered as she stepped out from behind the easel. And where was the tea tray? "Did you say something about milk?" he asked, starting down the path toward her. She could see now that the man was not as young as she first had supposed, for his dark brown hair was threaded with silver, and subtle lines softened the outer corners of his eyes. Moreover, he did not look much like a footman. Wearing a long black frock coat with velvet cuffs, he sported an embroidered waistcoat of indigo blue and a silk cravat. "Milk," she repeated, feeling a little off balance. "Indeed, I thought you had come about the tea." "No ... oranges, to be exact. Oranges and lemons." "Oranges?" Her focus darted to the double rows of orange trees hanging heavy with fruit. "What can you mean, sir?" "I wish to purchase a dozen oranges. I should be pleased to take several lemons as well. And some limes, if you have them." "Goodness, I mistook you for the footman!" she said, feeling a flush of heat pour into her cheeks. "Not that you resemble a servant, of course, for you are clearly a gentleman, and ... that is ... we normally do not sell the fruit grown in the conservatory ... sir." "What becomes of it?" "The kitchens use it in providing meals for the art students who have taken residence at Longley Park." "Am I to assume you are one of these students?" He glanced at her easel, and Clemma felt intense gratitude that it was turned the wrong way around. For some reason, this man disconcerted her, and she was not sure why. He was certainly handsome, and he displayed the elegance and mannerisms of a gentleman. Yet he had a stilted air about him, an upright sort of stiffness that gave him the look of a mannequin in a shopwindow. It was as though he were not quite real, not completely human. "No, sir," she said. "My student days are long behind me." "Then you are the proprietress of the conservatory?" "Oh no, for all the gardening at Longley Park is administered by Mr. Hedgley." The man's dark eyebrows lifted. "Then may I ask who gives you the authority to refuse my request?" Though the question was placed with civility, Clemma read the tinge of disdain it contained. But she had a ready answer. "I am Clementine Laird, sir. My sister, Mrs. Ivy Richmond, is mistress of Longley." "And this relationship gives you leave to make decisions regarding its citrus fruits?" She looked to see if he were joking, but she recognized no hint of levity in his eyes. "My sister and her husband are away in India," she said. "But ... no ... I am not exactly in charge of making decisions here, for that would fall to Mr. Thompson, the family's solicitor. Or perhaps Mr. Wiggins, the butler, is responsible ... though more rightly it might be the housekeeper, Mrs. Gold, for she is ..." She paused and frowned. "At any rate, you may not purchase fruit from the conservatory. I am sorry." Ducking behind her easel, she focused on her sketch of the vase as she hoped mightily that the man would go away. Instead, she heard again the sound of his footsteps approaching. Fearful lest he might peek at her drawing-which suddenly seemed poorly done indeed-Clemma rounded the easel and faced him. "Sir, may I be so bold as to know your name?" she said. "I believe I may be compelled to report this incident of trespassing to the constable in Otley." To her surprise, the man paled and took a step backward. "I beg you, do no such thing, Miss Laird. I come with no ill intent." "Then who are you, and why must you continue to insist upon purchasing lemons and oranges?" "I am a physician." He hesitated a moment. "My name is Paul Baine." As he spoke those words, Clemma felt her blood plummet to her knees. "Dr. Baine?" she repeated numbly. "Is my name familiar to you?" "It most certainly is, sir." Trying to regain her composure, Clemma extended the stick of charcoal toward him, as if it were a sword that might protect her. From the earliest days of her youth, she had heard tales of the man who lived at Nasmyth Manor, the darkly shuttered house on a windswept fell some distance from the village of Otley. Dr. Baine kept himself and his practices hidden away-and it was well he did so, for had he flaunted his evils, the town would have driven him off. It was rumored that women burdened with unwanted pregnancies slipped through the mists of night to knock on the door of Nasmyth Manor. In a day or two, they returned to their cottages, and not a word was spoken of what had taken place at the hands of Dr. Baine. Not only did the man perform these unspeakable acts, but he also saw patients who had contracted diseases from their profligate activities. It was rumored that sailors came from Scarborough Harbour and the coastal cities of Hull, Whitby, and Filey to be treated with a special cure that Dr. Baine had developed. The fallen women who consorted with these men came, too, as did villagers who had ventured to Leeds for an evening of revelry and had returned with more than they had bargained for. The man who stood before Clemma had enriched himself by these most repulsive means. He was a fiend. "Begone!" she cried, thrusting the charcoal stick at him. "Begone from this place, or I shall ... I shall ..." "You need not fear me, Miss Laird-" "I do not fear you-I revile you! Go away from here at once. As a Christian, I find that the very sight of you sickens me!" A strange light flickered in his eyes. "You are a Christian. Of course." He shrugged his shoulders. "Nevertheless, I must have the citrus fruits, madam." "Never. I would not allow you the smallest crumb from my table, let alone permit you to feast upon these beautiful oranges from my sister's hall." "I do not want them for myself." "No? And why should I believe anything you say?" "Why should I believe anything you say? We are strangers, are we not? What you appear to know of me is only by rumor and reputation. I know you only by what you have chosen to reveal about yourself, Miss Laird." " Mrs. Laird, if you please. I am a widow. And if you question my truthfulness, I shall ... I shall ..." "You are not very good at making threats, Mrs. Laird," he said, one corner of his elegant mouth tipping up. "Madam, I have very politely approached you and begged permission to purchase fruit. It is not to be eaten by me, whom you seem to find so odious, but by someone who is in dire need of the sustenance it provides. And so I implore you, Mrs. Laird. I appeal to your Christian charity. May you please find it in your pious and devoted heart to assist one so far beneath you as my humble self?" So saying, he fell on one knee, his arms outstretched and his head bowed. Clemma was so stunned she hardly knew what to say. There could be no denying the depths of Dr. Baine's wickedness. Though she had never met him before, the tales of his villainous treatments had persisted so many years that they could not be anything but true. He rarely came into the village, and he never set foot in church. If he had, he would have been shunned by one and all. Yet, this vile man had pointed out Clemma's Christian duty to act charitably. How could she refuse the fruit to one who must be in great need of its nourishment? But what if Dr. Baine planned to eat the oranges and lemons himself? What if his story were all a lie? Then she would be playing directly into his hand. "Get up at once, sir," she said, irritated at the indecision that plagued her. Did a Christian have an obligation to help those less fortunate-no matter what? No matter if the one in need was some bedraggled creature who had chosen to end the precious life growing within her womb? No matter if the hungry soul was a pestilent seaman who had spread his filth from port to port around the world? Oh, dear! "Sir, I beg you to rise," she said again. "Your mockery disgusts me, and your posturing is insufferable." "I shall rise only when you have permitted me to purchase oranges and lemons," he said, his head still bowed. "I cannot leave this place without accomplishing my mission." Clemma stared down at the man's bent head. His dark hair was in need of a trim, but the collar of his white shirt had been crisply starched and pressed. The fabric was very fine, she noted, and the cut of his frock coat bespoke exquisite tailoring. No doubt his coffers had been well filled by those wretched and desperate souls who came to him in their need. Of course he could charge any price for his services, for no respectable physician would undertake such unmentionable tasks. Continues... Excerpted from Victorian Rose by Catherine Palmer Copyright © 2002 by Catherine Palmer Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.