The War of the Roses—The Children Reviewed By Gordon Osmond of
Gordon Osmond

Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.

He has reviewed books and stageplays for and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE

Gordon can also be heard on the Electic Authors Showcase.

By Gordon Osmond
Published on April 9, 2013

Author:Warren Adler

Publisher:Stonehouse Productions

Author:Warren Adler

Publisher:Stonehouse Productions

Sequels can be tricky and dangerous. Just ask Laurence J. Peter, who, with Raymond Hull, wrote in 1969 a ground-breaking book, The Peter Principle, the revelatory thesis of which was that in contemporary hierarchies, people tend to be promoted to posts that are one level above their maximum capacity, viz., workers tend to rise to their level of incompetence. Later, Mr. Peter wrote a highly unworthy sequel which prompted one critic to proclaim, with Parkeresque savagery, that Peter had, with his follow-up book proved the principle set forth in his inspired first one. That film sequels rarely attain the glory of the original has become a veritable truism, The Godfather II, to the contrary notwithstanding.

With The War of the Roses—The Children, author Warren Adler, the author of the iconic dissection of a failed and destructive marriage which has attained international acclaim in book, film, and stage media, has faced the specter of the sequel and, in this reviewer’s view, gloriously overcome the challenge. Although, as with the original work, the author paints a painfully vivid portrait of the disintegration of a marriage and its devastating consequences—giving some credence to the notion that divorce may, indeed, be contagious--the focus is brilliantly broadened beyond that to include both grandchildren and in-laws. The grandchildren of the film Roses (one of which bears the given name of the actor playing his grandfather) are used to give the novel its resolution, in-laws to provide a climactic conflagration that makes the most incendiary scenes of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? come off as a demure tea party.

Author Adler uses familiar ingredients in concocting his tale. The first four letters of the alphabet provide the first letters for many of them—attraction, betrayal, cheating, deception, chastisement, and conciliation. It’s not the ingredients but rather how they’re put together that gives this sequel its special sauce and flavor, just as the Roses’ daughter Evie concocts her prize pâté. (These gastronomical references will be forgiven once the reader learns the great extent to which food propels much of the drama in the book.)

The structure of the story is solid and satisfyingly symmetrical. The couple representing the next generation of warring Roses are both blackmail victims, and each has a nemesistic in-law, one horizontal and the other vertical, who aggravate the couple’s tension to the breaking point. One in-law suffers from love of food, the other from hatred of men. Segregation is again deemed the solution to the couple’s marital problems, but this time around it’s temporal rather than spatial. The novel also raises interesting questions about opposing parenting theories—a father’s laissez faire approach and his wife’s much less laissez one.

Rhetorical flourishes, ironies, and keen attention to detail abound:

. . . that grave that was swallowing their yesterdays.”

In those career days, as a single practitioner in the seedy negligence law business, she was living testimony to the case for tort reform. Once she had enjoyed the hurly-burly challenge of walking the thin wavy line between the micro margins of corruption and alleged legality. Love and marriage had demanded a higher level of moral turpitude and parenting had sealed her fate, motivating aggressive psychic reconstruction.”

At a critical moment, the Rose home houses two Doms—a Perignon in the dining room and a cuckolded husband up to no good in the study.

Where does her brother put the perilously overweight daughter of the original Roses when she comes to help out? The spare room, where else? And what is her favorite after-dinner tipple? Crème de menthe, what else?

At the end, one might be tempted to conclude that the only marriage having any hope of survival is one between two only children who are also orphans. So much for the in-law problem. But then where would Warren Adler find the grist for his miraculous story-telling mill?Perhaps it would suffice to require marriage license applicants, in lieu of having their blood tested, to read both blooms in Warren Adler’s Rose bouquet. Despite their correspondences, the two books are critically different, but I’m not about to tell a pre-reader how.

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