When it comes to unconditional love, Italian matriarch, Rose D’Orsi is deeply challenged. Nobody feels it more than Glory, her estranged 48-year-old lesbian daughter. Though Rose attracts the attention of Eli Fineman, a rich Bulgarian Holocaust survivor whose love, compassion, and wit affects people in unimaginable ways, he arrives too late in life to teach Rose how to be a good mother, even to Ricky, the child she favors.
When Rose gets a terminal illness, Ricky is stretched beyond his limits, juggling a blue-collar job, a family, and his mother’s unreasonable demands. Glory adds to the problem when she returns to Brooklyn to enlist her brother in a comically poignant effort to make peace with her abusive mother. Caught between two strong women, Ricky capitulates to his sister and there’s hell to pay until Rose’s unfortunate death, which sets off a sequence of events that causes the siblings to question their life choices and each other.
Sometimes it takes a personal tragedy to look within, but when Rose’s will clouds everyone’s judgment, it takes a bold act and a devastating catastrophe to elevate the human spirit.
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Touching and well written.
I really enjoyed this book. I read it from beginning to end in one sitting, and it was well worth the discomfort of sitting in the same chair for 5 hours. Rose’s Will is story that should appeal to virtually anyone who has encountered family drama. Denise DeSio’s tale of acceptance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and moral responsibility is told through the eyes of three different people and three totally unique perspectives. The pace is quick and not weighed down by excessive descriptive filler, although in places I wouldn’t have minded knowing more about certain characters and situations. The character Eli is so well written and insightful that his “life story” could probably be made into an entirely separate novel. While there are some hard-hitting and somewhat disturbing scenes in the book, it’s well balanced with just the right amount of comic relief. I especially liked the exchanges between Glory’s young niece and nephew. All in all, Rose’s Will is a great read. Denise DeSio should be very proud of her first novel. She really hit a home run.
By E. Schneider (Phoenix, AZ USA)
You won’t put it down!
Fortunately for me, through the invention of Facebook, I have rekindled a childhood friendship with the author of this book. The history between us has made this story wonderfully nostalgic and, because we lost touch after high school, especially enticing. I found myself completely wrapped up, as Glory “filled me in” on her life to the present time, with a voice that clearly reflects both the difficulties she’s faced and the happiness she’s found. The strength, the humor, the sarcasm, the sentimentality, the history, the insight, the warmth and a genuine talent for story telling, made this a rich, captivating, well written page turner, definitely worth reading! My only regret is that my e-book can’t be signed “To my old friend” with a particularly swirly autograph.
By Glenn A. Hochberg
Rose’s Will cuts close to the psychological bone. If you’ve ever contemplated the universal topic of family pain and drama, reading this novel is like rubbernecking the scene of the accident. Denise DeSio, in her first novel, has mastered “the pure, clear word”, as described by the great American poet James Wright. The writing is spare and authentic, the pace is quick, and the plot clever. Amazingly, the ending is happy and unexpected. It takes a very gifted writer to tackle this potentially tear-jerking topic and deliver a novel with great compassion and wit, but no self pity. Highly recommended.
By Mary Janosik
Roller coaster ride of raw human emotion!
It has been a long time since a book affected me in such a profound way. Rose’s Will took me on a beautiful roller coaster ride of raw human emotion, and I went from smiling one minute, to laughing out loud, and finally sobbing my eyes out. DeSio captures the very essence of dramatic family life and unravels some interesting truths about the family dynamic that most people would prefer to turn a blind eye to. The book is told through three POV’s which all center round Rose D’Orsi, the family matriarch and tyrant. Each character is so well-written and defined that it wasn’t difficult connecting with them. Glory, Rose’s daughter, whose continued efforts to gain her mother’s approval puts more of a strain on their already weakened relationship. Her behaviour, although very much justified, had me at times wondering about her own stubborn intolerance for her mother. Ricky, Glory’s younger brother. His loyalty to Rose has left him bitter and self-righteous. He loves his sister very much but, always the one to pick up the pieces, Ricky’s disdain for Glory becomes clearer as the book draws to an end. My favorite character was Eli, a soft spoken, compassionate soul, always searching for the good in people. Eli’s view of Rose is a full 180 to her childrens’. Rose’s feistiness and garish behaviour excited him, and he was very much the yin to her yang. In the end, the story offers a wonderful twist that left a smile on my lips for hours after I had finished reading it. It was a great pleasure reading Rose’s Will and I look forward to more amazing stories penned by Denise DeSio.
By Roxy Kade (South Africa)
Review of “Rose’s Will”
I read “Rose’s Will” on the computer, an activity I never imagined enjoying… and found myself looking forward to my next middle-of-the-night opportunity to read more, until I finished this novel a few minutes ago. All families have secrets, misunderstandings, skewed perspectives, and resultant difficulties in relating to one another. “Rose’s Will” does a fine job of illustrating how our individual choices come with their own opportunity cost, and how actively we participate in how we see another (as opposed to “that’s just how they are.”) Each of the main characters of “Rose’s Will” has her/his own brand of heroism, as well as a stubborn insistence regarding what is the “truth.” This is a story that becomes more gripping the further you read, until you must finish it. I am impressed with the author’s skill in bringing us along for the ride, using the clever device of three very different viewpoints of daughter, son, and lover of the woman who so profoundly affected them. I highly recommend this book to others, and thank Ms. DeSio for writing her tale.
By The Dottster
A True Power Read
“I don’t love you, but I’ve always wanted to” – This one gripping line from Denise DeSio’s powerful new book, “Rose’s Will” captures the true essence of the dysfunctional family relationship. The story, told from its three main characters. Glory, the rebellious and frustrated daughter, her selfish, guilt ridden brother Ricky, who can’t or won’t bring himself to tell his own side of the story, and Eli the mysterious boyfriend of Glory & Ricky’s enigmatic, seemingly unlovable mother, Rose. The book was a fast and easy read, perhaps because of the author’s style of blending real time drama with the feel of a long term saga. This book is family drama at its finest but with enough love and laughter to keep you wanting more. Maybe we will get more as there were just enough unanswered motivations that scream out for a prequel.
By Richard Bartenbach
Rose’s Will by Denise DeSio was a great read. To be honest, I was fully prepared to dislike this book since this isn’t my genre of choice but I was very pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the characters which made this book hard to put down. It was hard to pick up too, because I read it on my computer. Looking forward to Denise’s next literary masterpiece.
By L. Parks
A must read
In recent years I have sort of given up book reading. I’ve become like my kids, instant gratification, get to point in record time and move on. But I read “Roses Will” and have rediscovered what its like to enjoy the journey of the the story. I was almost sorry I got to the last page so quickly. Denise has a way to draw you into the story, to make you want to listen to her and her characters. You start to feel like you’re one of the family. Like shes talking to you over a cup of coffee and giving you the inside dirt. I like that. Reading it made me feel like her special friend. I can’t wait to read what comes next. I’ve become an instant fan.
By Lisa D
Well written with intelligence and humor.
Warning: Do not begin reading unless you have a block of uninterrupted time. You will not want to stop reading until you reach a surprising conclusion. Prepare to be drawn into the comic sometimes sad, sometimes frustrating tales of family discord. The family relationships revolving around the matriarch give insight to acceptance, forgiveness, redemption and ultimately how the choices we make impact our lives. Think combination of Elizabeth Berg, Rubyfruit Jungle, and Irma Bombeck. Well written with intelligence and humor.
By The Sun Diva
I want to read it again with the same discovery
This book has absolutely nothing to do with me. Well, ok, maybe I can relate to two things: I do love a wicked sense of humor and I share a strong sense of fair play. But that’s all. My own loving mother died when I was a kid – she didn’t torture me well into adulthood. I’m not a lesbian. I’ve never known a wise holocaust survivor – or a dumb one, for that matter. What I’m trying to say is that although this book has nothing to do with my life, I now know these characters as if they were my people. Please write more, Denise DeSio! And hurry up. I want this experience again and again. There’s nothing like curling up with a good book, and this was a great one.
By ethics count
Fantastic Debut Novel!
This is a fantastic debut novel that carefully balances wit with messy family drama. The chapters are divided into three points of view and DiSio created three believable characters. Glory, Ricky, and Eli are complete full fledged people that come to life the moment they step off the page. I enjoyed seeing some of the same scenes from all three points of view. The reader immediately empathizes and understands them. The secondary characters were also wonderful–especially the Aunties. I enjoyed how Glory, Ricky, or Eli’s perspective of them and their actions were completely different.
By Elizabeth Guizzetti
A page turner
It was hard to put this book down or should i say minimized) and find myself trying to read more in between my busy schedule.
By Jodi Silverman
An Amazing First Novel! Unique and Riveting!
Although this book is published as a novel, it is heavily autobiographical, and tells the story of Glory, a strong, authentic lesbian who truly never spent a single day in the closet. Glory is a woman who heads directly for the truth — every time, no matter what the personal cost, and for this reason alone, I highly recommend Rose’s Will.
But Rose’s Will delivers so much more. There are three main characters, each of whom rotates by chapter, and flawlessly advances the plot to an exciting conclusion, with an unexpected twist at the very end. One of these characters is Eli, a wealthy Bulgarian philosopher with a unique and little known Holocaust survival story. Whereas Glory is the voice of truth, Eli is the voice of reason and draws the reader in with his intelligence, warmth, and an endless capacity for the cognitive process. His thoughts on morality as it applies to religion are as follows: “The human condition is such that, with or without the gods, both kindness and cruelty are inevitable. Each day a man gets out of bed and chooses what he will do. And later he, and the people affected by him, enjoy or suffer the consequences. I do not say that I am not appalled by baser instincts, but to dwell on them makes a bitter man. To hold in your heart memories of courage, compassion, generosity – ah, that makes a better man.”
Ricky, Glory’s brother, is the third main character. A blue-collar workaholic with way too much on his plate, he has lost himself trying to be all things to all people. But Mr. Nice Guy doesn’t realize that he is a powder keg ready to explode, and that’s not all that explodes in this novel. (That’s a clue, but I don’t want to include a spoiler!)
So who is Rose? Well, she is one revolting matriarch, around whom all the characters in the book revolve. She is stubborn, selfish, ignorant and abusive, but whether the characters avoid her, cater to her, hate her, or love her unconditionally, each of them struggles to find his or her own personal and/or moral plateau.
In addition to all of the above, DeSio has an amazing talent for voice and dialogue. Never once does she break character, whether she’s portraying a 71 year old Bulgarian Jew, a 40 year old cable guy, or a lesbian atheist. Everyone I know who has read Rose’s Will reported being riveted to their seats. Get this book. You won’t be sorry.
By Carol Reid (Phoenix, AZ United States)
I really enjoyed reading Rose’s Will, a book that is heart-wrenching and intriguing all the way through. Denise DeSio is a skilled writer and has a firm grasp on human nature. Throughout the novel, we get to know three different characters, and through them we also get to know Rose D’Orsi, who is loved, hated and, arguably, misunderstood by those closest to her.
The book begins toward the end of Rose’s life, and as we pick up with the three main characters in present time, we learn what decisions and events in the past have led to all of them knowing a completely different version of Rose. She has alienated her daughter, manipulated her son, and captured the heart of a man who goes to her senior center.
When Rose dies, a mystery surrounding her will starts to unfold. And while the matriarch’s family is disjointed before her death, what she leaves in her absence threatens to destroy them for good. DeSio has created a character-driven family thriller, as those who know Rose best discover they may not have known her at all, and their worlds teeter on the verge of collapsing around them. Rose’s Will is a quick read with great character development. DeSio is a natural writer, who seems to get what makes people tick and the kind of love that’s needed to keep us going. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting and fast-paced family drama.
I don’t read a lot of novels, but I do enjoy memoir. Rose’s Will falls somewhere in-between those categories, and I couldn’t put it down. The characters are rich and compelling, the dialogue rings true, and the story takes a potentially depressing situation to a redeeming conclusion without becoming sappy or preachy. I like that. Denise has done some real and meaningful work in being able to reveal the characters in this story from complex angles. I applaud this wonderful first novel, and will look forward to the next one.
By Laurie (Tyler, TX USA)
Hooked by the Words
Some books grab you from the word go and by the second paragraph in the book I was hooked by the words that the author strung into such beautiful sentences. There is word to describe that ability: wordsmith.
I am not one to give endless synopses of books. In short the story deals with a woman, Glory, who has to deal with an extremely painful childhood and who, despite horrendous abuse, tries to reconcile with her aging and belligerent mother, Rose. Her mother is still in denial and this leads to a series of confrontations between mother and daughter. Add to that Rose’s hostility towards her daughter’s lesbian relationship and you have an extremely volatile situation.
There are no car chases, no murder that needs to be solved…what there is is a brutally honest narration of a dysfunctional relationships. Years of abuse left its mark on everyone, including on the brother Ricky. While Glory chose to leave the house, he chose to stay and look after Rose and he still resents Glory for leaving him to take care of Rose.
It is easy to paint characters in a story like this as either good/the victim or bad/the aggressor. The author side-steps this brilliantly and instead of a one -dimensional child abuser, you have Rose who struggles with her own inner demons. And her boyfriend Eli’s narration is used as the voice of reason. Like Cicero that he is so fond of quoting, he is the one that approaches life logically. He brings out Rose as she was before the trauma —the caring, laughing, jovial woman who is fond of dancing and whose laughter filled the canals of Venice.
But this is a multi-layered story. What is striking is that everyone knows that the daughter was abused but still they remain unapologetic. As if trivialising events or furnishing reasons for the mothers erratic behaviour eradicate the past. This in itself, instead of alleviating the pain of the victim, causes more trauma as it appears as if they do not understand what the person went through. Then the self-doubt returns: Maybe if I acted differently I could have avoided the abuse and the pain. But that of course is a fallacy, you cannot expect of a child to somehow, by behaving differently, stop the avalanche of abuse.
So Glory is not only fighting her painful memories, she is also fighting for the right to be heard, the right to be believed.
In the end, Glory finds solace in the stories of Eli of a mother that was happy, content and caring. He shows her the other face of the monster who brought her up. The book is an emotional tale and the author’s layering of perspectives is wonderful. It is seldom that a book with such a theme is such a page turner. The author also manages not to turn it into a sulking, melodramatic “O woe is me” book. This has been one of the best and most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I can’t wait for the second one.
I Laughed, I Cried
This novel was a real page turner (if such a thing is even possible in today’s digital world). There were moments in the novel that set a chill up my back, and moments that caused me to tear up. The characters felt very real to me. I was sad when I got to the end. I’d love to hear more of their stories. Thanks for the wonderful novel !
By Rachel Haines
Totally Captured Me
This first novel graced my life at a very interesting time. My elderly mother was to be staying with me while she
recovered from a surgery. Our relationship has always been quite strained and distant. I could totally relate to the characters in this book. The one line that stood out for me was “I have never loved you, but I have always wanted to”. BINGO! The book was totally captivating and helped me look at my mother as some elderly person who needed assistance and not as my “parental unit”. I will certainly keep further writing from Denise on my radar…eh gaydor:)
By N. Thompson “Desert Diver” (Arizona)
Rose’s Will was the perfect first book for me to read on my new Kindle. I could not put it down. I want to hug Eli. I want to be one of the children he never had. I want to love like Eli, and be the object of his love. I want to read stories of his years as a social worker and about the other lives he touched in the way the D’Orsi’s were. He is like the Man Behind the Curtain. Unconditional love, behind the curtain. Blessed. Thank you, Ms. DeSio, and can we hope for a sequel?
By Kim Hall (Phoenix, AZ, USA)
Dysfunctional Family – Good Read
This was the first book I read on my IPod Touch. I was worried I would not like the format but found it relatively easy. At the beginning, I did not care for the book – I found the first chapters disjointed, moving too fast with too much information. And throughout the book, I was distracted by the use of two First Person voices and 1 Third person (omniscient) voice. I think it might have been easier to have 1 first and two third person voices.I had made a commitment to finish the book so I kept reading. And I came to appreciate it. There are parts of this book that are hard, but they feel very real, especially the way the dysfunctional family is dealt with. There is one way I didn’t like the book – we are never told who the Rose was that Eli loved. So I am left questioning that relationship.