Passion, infidelity, social climbing, and one very special white rose weave a seductive narrative in this intelligent and tender novel.
At forty-eight, Marian Kahn, a professor of history at Columbia, has reached a comfortable perch. Married, wealthy, and the famed discoverer of the eighteenth-century adventuress, Lady Charlotte Wilcox, she ought to be content. Instead, she is horrified to find herself profoundly in love with twenty-six-year-old Oliver, the son of her eldest friend. When Marian's cousin, the snobbish Barton, announces his engagement to Sophie, a graduate student in Marian's department, Marian, Oliver, and Sophie find their lives woefully entangled, and their hearts turned in unfamiliar directions. All three of them will learn that love may seldom be straightforward, but it's always a gift.
From the West Village to the Upper East Side, from the Hamptons to Millbrook, The White Rose is at once a nuanced and affectionate reimagining of Strauss's beloved opera, Der Rosenkavalier, and a mesmerizing novel of our own time and place.
Korelitz, known for her intelligent thrillers (The Sabbathday River, etc.), strikes off in a new direction with this mordant story of aging, love and self-discovery, a reimagining of the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier set in upper-class Jewish New York City. Marian Kahn, gracefully aging at 48, is a respected history professor at Columbia, author of a bestselling book of popular history and solidly ensconced in a satisfactory if not brilliant marriage when suddenly she's swept away by the wild but dangerous joy of an affair with the son of her oldest friend. Twenty-six-year-old Oliver, owner of a flower shop called the White Rose, is truly in love, but when he meets graduate student and heiress Sophie Klein, the fianc e of Marian's pompous cousin, Barton Ochstein, he's blindsided and must question his still strong love for Marian. Sophie is swept away, too, by the knowledge that she may want something more out of life than the academic satisfaction she derives from the study of her own White Rose, a group of German dissidents who agitated against the Nazis. The belief that love always involves sacrifice and is worth the sacrifice it demands drives this warm, worldly novel. Even when their own comfort is at stake, Korelitz's characters succumb to generous impulses, making this a satisfying, emotionally rich read.
This is not a new book by this author. It was published in 2004. I read it years ago.
I should have read the first few chapters before actually purchasing this ridiculous book. The first chapter was mildly intriguing. By the second chapter I felt like I was watching a cheesy sitcom comedy alongside an unamused, slightly embarrassed audience. From the absurdly polarized, superficially developed characters to the trite dialogue and quotidian setting, this story is fit for a puppet show at best.