Rosette by Cindy Rinaman Marsch

Rosette coverWhen I was offered a free review copy of US author and writing teacher Cindy Rinaman Marsch’s debut novel, I jumped to accept, drawn in by the beautiful cover and the story of the novel’s origin: the imagining of a back-story behind the antique diaries of the character whose name give the book its title: Rosette.

Pressing the Ingalls Wilder Hot Button

My long-standing love of Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s fictionalised memoirs of her childhood as an early American pioneer primed me to enjoy this novel. (For evidence of how deep this love goes, bear in mind that I named my daughter Laura after her,  as I explained in this post on my personal blog.)

Like the great LIW, Marsch’s story is based on fact, but obviously not on her own experience, as she’s very much still alive! Instead, it’s based on antique diaries, which were her jumping-off point for the story, wondering why an early entry about how happy Rosette is on her wedding day has lately been altered to suggest the opposite. Marsch has interspersed diary entries within the novel – her own writing is at least 95% of the book, in case you’re wondering about the balance – but she also broadens the scope by writing from other characters’ viewpoints, to create a vivid and absorbing picture of the life of pioneers as they build their own new town, society and country around them in former wilderness.

Authentic Language and Expression

Marsch’s use of language is sublime. She echoes the phraseology of the time without sounding phoney, to the extent that the transcribed diary extracts blend seamlessly with Marsch’s own text. If they weren’t italicised – and if they hadn’t kept any original misspellings – you wouldn’t be able to see the join.

As with LIW’s books, Marsch’s description of daily life in this embryonic society fills one with admiration for the pluck, spirit and determination of its people, while also making them seem very real and easy to relate to for the modern reader.

Not Quite What I Expected – But Still A Great Read

The balance of the novel was not quite as I expected. I had thought there would be more detail about the breakdown of Rosette’s marriage, slowly revealing the mystery of what made her later obliterate her happy wedding day entry. However, her disenchantment is handled relatively quickly towards the end, and quite subtly. I had expected it to be more the core of a novel. However, I enjoyed the novel so much, feeling I’d been picked up and set down in its era and setting, that I didn’t really mind – I just felt slightly wrong-footed.

In short, Cindy Rinaman Marsch’s Rosette is a fascinating and compelling historical novel which I highly recommend.

Cover of Rosette by Cindy Rinaman Marsch

American novelist Cindy Rinaman Marsch

For more information about Cindy Rinaman Marsch and Rosette, visit her book’s website:



4 thoughts on “Rosette by Cindy Rinaman Marsch

  1. Thanks for the lovely write-up, Debbie Young! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the novel. Did you notice that almost every character–save the Mousehunt (Moushund) family–is British, just a few generations removed from England by way of Massachusetts and New York? 🙂

    I am currently drafting a short story prequel called “Blizzard,” set in the Children’s Blizzard of 1888. And after that I want to present Rosette brother’s Solomon’s story, hinted at in this novel, and anyone interested can follow the progress of these projects via my Readers List at the website.


  2. Debbie, you have hooked me – especially as I am at present reading that US ‘update’ of Pride & Prejudice which is hugely over-rated (prob simply because it is by Curtis Sittenfield) – do not bother!!! (CS can’t write, actually, breaks all the ‘rules’ and ends up ‘telling’ in the most boring ways possible …) Had just finished Val McDairmid’s Northanger Abbey, which by contrast is brilliant and funny & reflects Jane A’s prose remarkably well, and wanted to try another Austen re-make. No … Now the Rosette story sounds really worthwhile – a better follow-on from Val M.


  3. Pingback: Blizzard by Cindy Rinaman Marsch | Debbie Young's Reading Life

  4. Pingback: Bad Company by Shaun Ivory | Debbie Young's Reading Life

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