Rose in Bloom

Part two wraps up the story from Eight Cousins, picking up the thread a few years down the road as Rose, Phebe, and Rose’s uncle return from a few years traveling abroad. Once she sets foot onshore, Rose’s friends press her to have a coming out party appropriate for an heiress. Rose does enter society, telling her uncle that she’s going to experiment with it for a few months, then make her decision if she’ll continue or go back to more worthy pursuits. She finds her boy cousins much improved, and the handsomest (Charlie, or Prince) goes about trying to woo Rose with more of an eye to her fortune than anything. He’s unfortunately already an alcoholic, although he bravely tries to give it up for Rose’s sake. He ends up dying right on the cusp of leaving to live with his father in India, where he was sure to be saved from temptation. Luckily (as we suspected all along), bookworm cousin Mac blossoms into a hunky genius poet doctor and Rose finds that she can love someone as much as her uncle. Side plot is Phebe (the ex-maid turned singer) who cousin Archie falls for but the family rejects (no family! no money!), so she goes off to earn fame and fortune as a singer, returning with a hero’s welcome after she nurses beloved uncle back to health. This book has more of a feminist tone, where Rose continues to hammer on topics like the ridiculousness of women being educated for silly things and obsessed with fine dresses. Charlie’s unsuitability is early highlighted in his distaste for Rose’s strong mind, considers her “ruined” by the uncle’s teaching.