A Provence Rose

A Provence Rose - Ouida [These notes were made in 1992:]. Not a full-scale novel; perhaps it is better described as a 75-page novelette. The narrative voice is first-person, or perhaps "first-flower", for Ouida has adopted the rather cloying device of telling the story from the viewpoint of a rosebush! After an introductory section on the advantages of nature over the city & the hard life of flowers, complete with a number of cute if somewhat predictable comparisons of flowers with human poets (they bring beauty to the world, which casts them aside), the rose tells of the (very idealized) young woman, poor but honest & beautiful, who picks it up from the streets, plants & tends it, looks after her disabled grandmother, & eventually falls for/is wooed by, and marries an equally poverty-stricken & equally noble painter - René Claire. The last act of this slight history sees a corrupt art dealer offering to promote René's great but unrecognized paintings in exchange for René doing a little forgery on the side. This offer is of course indignantly refused, and the two sink deeper into poverty and misery. Then we get Lili by herself, as René is off fighting in a war; & when a stranger brings her back her love-gift to René (a rose-bud from our narrator, plucked and tossed to him in the early stages of their courtship, and worn by him ever since), she kisses the rose and expires. Ouida is an extravagant and sometimes irritatingly careless writer, and her attitudes are objectionable in all sorts of ways. Still, she has a certain power, even in this contribution to the "Cosy Corner Series", where the avowed aim was to be "particularly adapted for reading aloud... unexceptionable in every way." This edition is illustrated by cover designer Amy Sacker (I don't know if she did this particular cover - it's not signed). The illustrations are appropriate & quite well-executed, but hardly inspired.