Cover image for The road taken
The road taken
Jaffe, Rona.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Hampton Falls, N.H. : Beeler Large Print, [2001]

Physical Description:
499 pages (large print) ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Large Print Large Print

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Author Notes

Rona Jaffe was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 12, 1931. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951 and began her writing career as an assistant editor at Fawcett Gold Medal Books in 1952. Her first novel, The Best of Everything, was published in 1958 and was later adapted into a film starring Joan Crawford. Her works include Class Reunion, The Room-Mating Season, The Last Chance, Family Secrets, The Cousins, Five Women, and Mazes and Monsters. During the late 1960s, she was hired to write cultural pieces for Cosmopolitan.

She founded The Rona Jaffe Foundation, which presents annual awards to promising women writers of literary fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction including the Rona Jaffe Prizes in Creative Writing at Radcliffe and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards. She died from cancer on December 30, 2005 at the age of 74.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

At the center of Jaffe's busy new saga stands Rose Smith Carson. Born in 1900 and still alive at the close of the twentieth century, Rose is meant to embody the spirit of her times, and her extended family creates a veritable map of social change. At age 10, she copes quietly with grief when her mother dies and manages to get along with her fiercely pragmatic stepmother. She loses her first love to the influenza epidemic, mourns long and hard while teaching elementary school, then marries a lawyer and embarks on a bourgeois yet openminded life in New York City. She loves her brother even after the shock of discovering not only that he's gay but also that he loves to dress in drag, and she rides out the storms of her daughters' lives with an almost maddening serenity. All manner of sexual and medical difficulties surface over the course of this multigenerational melodrama, and Jaffe blithely drops historical tidbits about the legalization of birth control and the discovery of penicillin and a vaccine for polio into the narrative. Her characters are nearly doll-like as they wear the fashions of the times with an easy grace and weather crises great and small with mild despair. Simplistic and blandly entertaining, Jaffe's fictionalized primer to the last century is rescued from utter superficiality by vibrant descriptions, good intentions, and a comforting aura of compassion. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bestselling author Jaffe (Five Women) pulls off an impressive feat, packing most of the major events of the last century into one family saga that starts with Rose Smith, born January 1, 1900. Rose is 10 when the book opens, attending her mother's funeral, and as Jaffe follows the protagonist and her family through the decades, the author skillfully incorporates such sweeping developments as the changing roles of women, new medical discoveries and evolving opinions about war, sexuality and individual rights. Rose is 18 when her first love is killed during WWI, not in battle but by the influenza epidemic. She marries for companionship and moves from her Connecticut hometown to Greenwich Village. Her brother, HughÄwhose childhood penchant for dressing up in women's clothes foreshadows his sexual coming of ageÄvisits Rose and finds his element in the then-underground homosexual world in the Village. Moving in with Rose's family, Hugh acts the role of a carefree bachelor until Rose discovers his secret. Decades later, Hugh becomes an advocate for AIDS awareness. Rose's children offer Jaffe further opportunities to integrate signs of the times into the narrative: Peggy marries her WWII soldier pen pal and lives a suburban life; the independent "Disco" Joan becomes a hip fashion editor; and Ginger contracts polio just before the Salk vaccine is released. Jaffe's compelling use of personal disasters, conflicts and love relationships reveals the broad range of the ways kin relateÄthe secrets, the interminable feuds, the special closeness. In this uplifting story of how family ultimately provides the vital core for the human experience, Jaffe also convincingly depicts a century of social change. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate selections; audio rights to Dove. (July) FYI: Jaffe established the Rona Jaffe Foundation, which offers awards and funding for women writers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Jaffe's Five Women (LJ 6/15/97) scrutinized the modern lives of five friends. In contrast, her latest novel chronicles the American 20th century through the life and times of a single New York family. The story begins and ends with Rose Smith, the pivotal character, who is born in 1900. Her mother dies when she is only ten, leaving her to be raised by her father, older sister, and eventually a stepmother. Rose falls in love with the boy next door, only to lose him to the flu, which raged during World War I. Ultimately, she marries happily and has three girls, who differ startlingly from one another. They grow up, experience victories, suffer tragedies, and form families of their own. This extended family view affords an expansive panorama of American cultural history, including world wars, Twenties flappers, the fight for women's rights, Prohibition, the lives of closeted gays, ravaging diseases such as polio and AIDS, Fifties suburban housewives, and city life of every decade. Ambitious, engaging, and recommended for all public libraries.--Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.