The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns

by Margaret Dilloway

Hardcover(Large Print Edition)

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Thirty-six-year-old Gal Garner lives a regimented life. Her job teaching biology and her struggle with kidney disease keep her toggling between the high school, the hospital, and her home on a strict schedule.

Only at home, in her garden, does Gal come alive. It's here that she experiments with Hulthemia roses, painstakingly cross-pollinating various specimens in the hopes of creating a brand-new variation of spectacular beauty. But even her passion has a highly structured goal: Gal wants to win Queen of Show in a major competition and bring that rose to market.

Then one afternoon Gal's teenaged niece Riley, the daughter of her estranged sister, arrives. Unannounced. Neither one of them will ever be the same.

Filled with gorgeous details of the art of rose breeding, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is a testament to the redemptive power of love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781410452542
Publisher: Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date: 11/22/2012
Edition description: Large Print Edition
Pages: 602
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Margaret Dilloway lives in Southern California with her husband and their three young children. Her blog, American Housewife, can be found on her website at This is her second novel.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns:

“Dilloway artfully weaves the intricacies of rose floriculture with her characters’ teen angst and epiphany, an anguished wait for a new kidney, lost and newfound friends, reconciliation, and hope.” —Kit-Bacon Gressitt, North County Times

“[An] exquisite little novel . . . Dilloway's keen prose and an unexpected ending lift The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns above mere schmaltz into something special.”—Entertainment Weekly

"Believable situations with well-drawn characters make this novel as lovely as the roses Gal tends. Dilloway's second novel is a captivating study of how love and understanding nurture our lives. Engaging, enlightening, thoughtful, this is a winner." —Library Journal

"A richly textured diversion from standard treatments of family angst, Dilloway’s new novel expresses a graceful understanding of the virtues of mercy."—Booklist
"[An] exquisitely written novel about love and redemption." —Kirkus

“I was captivated from the very first page. This uplifting novel about family and forgiveness brought me to both laughter and tears. By the end of this honest, engaging journey, I had grown to love all of the characters and was left with a new appreciation of the fragility and beauty of our daily happiness.”—Jean Kwok, New York Times–bestselling author of Girl in Translation

"Dilloway's rapturous new novel showcases a prickly heroine who shows what happens, when despite the formidable odds before us, we risk blooming. What flowers is knockout and to say I loved this book is understatement."—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“Galilee Garner is as prickly, thorny, and gracefully sweet as one of her prize roses. and her supporting characters bloom with their own quirks and virtues. A fun and uplifting read.”—Tiffany Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

"The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns is a tender, moving story that shows how family not only has the capacity to wound, but offers us the possibility to bloom again."—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, bestselling author of Secret Daughter

“Even readers with black thumbs will be enchanted by the bramble beauty that is Galilee Garner. Dilloway has cultivated a fascinating plot in the rich science and magic of flower breeding. A story about family and the ways in which the unexpected blossom is often the most cherished. This novel is a rose personified.”—Sarah McCoy, author of The Baker’s Daughter and The Time It Snowed In Puerto Rico
"A touching, moving story . . . Margaret Dilloway is a gifted, talented writer."—Darien Gee, author of Friendship Bread

Customer Reviews

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The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
ckmkak2 More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It had a great story line. I have not read any other books by this author, but I think I will check into some other titles since this one was so good. I recommend this book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story about relationships. Written with an expert pen. I never wanted it to end.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
Galilee “Gal” Garner isn’t the typical protagonist. I’ll just be honest—I didn’t like her. She was so rough and thorn like. She came off hard and callous. The truth is she’s had a rough go of life. I liked that she didn’t sit around and feel sorry for herself. Gal has kidney disease; she spent her days teaching high school science and most of her evenings sleeping at the hospital. She kept a strict schedule and strict diet. There were very few relationships with people in her life; she liked to keep people at arm’s length. She moved through her entire life with the knowledge that she could land in the hospital or die if she got sick. How sad to be burdened with knowing you could bring despair and loss to someone if you opened yourself up to loving them and letting them love you. Gal put all her passion and energies into something safe…her roses. Gal is obsessed about creating a new variation of a Hulthemia Rose. Her green house and her roses are her life, love, her baby. Gal seemed perfectly content with how things were, but her world gets turned upside down when Gal’s sister sends her daughter to Gal to watch. Riley is a young girl who shows up unannounced and with lots of her own ‘baggage’. Riley grew up being tossed around from her mother (who is an addict), her grandparents to her father (who is now remarried and no longer around). They seem to be exactly what the other one needs. Gal’s mothering instincts start to kick in and Riley begins to let Gal in—finding a safe spot. For me, I found this to be a special book. I don’t think it would be easy to write about such an unlikable person. And at the same time there is this very slow peeling away of the old Gal, but Dilloway never strays too far. Gal always seems the same just better. I slowly began liking her the more or moreso I understood her more and wanted more for her. I loved Riley and felt bad for Riley. I loved how Riley grew. I can’t say I put this book down and said “wow it was amazing,” but it was uplifting. Like I said, special. It felt real, like you were glimpsing into Gal’s life. It’s not a love story, but a story about the human spirit. It’s a novel I hope you will read. Take your time with it. Savor it.
sunqueen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a great read! I love a story with a complex and unlikely protagonist, and Galilee Garner was certainly that. Gal was definitely a rose with many thorns.
KarenHerndon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a review book I received two days ago. I started it yesterday and couldn't put it down until I finished it today! What a sweet story. I loved it! Ifeel privileged to have been able to review this book and would highly recommend it when it is available in August.
angela.vaughn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I connected to Gal almost from the start. This character reminded me of my aunt in so many ways. It was a warm and tender book about our connections to the people around us, that we may not even know are there until it is literally thrown in your face. The references to the rose books and the rose theme worked splendidly and if you are like me-you might even learn a few things about the whole rose society. I can't wait to pass this book on to my aunt...I think she will get a kick out of it.
armchairreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this warm-hearted book very much. The characters are well-drawn and interesting, especially the protagonist, Galilee Garner. She is a science teacher and a bit of a loner, dealing with serious health problems, and is as prickly as the roses she breeds in her greenhouse. Her life changes when her teenaged niece comes to live with her, and the way the author handles their relationship is very true to life (speaking from my own experience as a mom). This is a touching and wise book, and I liked spending time with this little family, and learning about roses too!
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love a book that gives me that wonderful sense of satisfaction when I come to the end of the tale. Gal Garner is the living embodiment of a rose with thorns and it is a great pleasure to see how her relationships change with the catalyst of her niece coming to live with her. Despite her thorns, people close to her come to appreciate her. And she in turns begins to see how the defenses she has put up are getting in the way of things she really wants. Although the characters do have their prickly sides, each one is also lovely. And there is much to learn about the art of breeding roses!
momgee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First, let me say I loved Dilloway's How to be an American Housewife. It was one of last year's few 5* reads so I was really looking forward to Dilloway's latest. The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns started out slowly for me with what felt like too much info on kidney disease, dialysis and breeding roses but then it seems like something magical happened and I really got into the storyline. Gal, who I didn't like very much but I did feel like I understood her, became much more likeable once I saw through her prickly exterior to her vulnerability underneath.Gal's life is dictated by her kidney disease and her dialysis schedule. Every other night she has to sleep in the hospital while having dialysis. Even her diet is ruled by her kidneys. Being a biology teacher in a private school is her livelihood but breeding roses is her passion. It's the one way she has some control over things in her life. "Difficult and obstinate. Thriving under a set of specific and limited conditions. That pretty much describes me. Maybe that's why I like roses so much."Being somewhat of a loner is one of her traits along with liking things her way. She's not big into compromise or even seeing the other side of things until the day her niece, Riley, shows up at school. It figures, Gal thinks, that her sister Becky would just send her kid to stay with Gal without even asking her if it were okay. Becky, of whom, Gal does not approve has always been the irresponsible one, the impulsive one, not much of a mother, a drinker and a drug user. None of these things meet with Gal's liking at all. But that's all about to change after this one summer with Riley's unexpected and at first a little unwelcomed stay with her aunt. Dilloway brings her characters to life while exploring family dynamics, the power of forgiveness, self esteem, understanding, hope and love. I grew very fond of all these characters and even the rose breeding parts became interesting. 4****This would make a wonderful book club selection as I think there are many family issues that could be discussed. Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Putnam/LT in exchange for my honest opinion.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Robin Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book This story taught how you can take an object in this case Roses and compare them to your life. I thought that it was interesting and I really enjoyed how Ms. Dilloway how the flowers helped Gal Garner re-connect with life. A great correlation between the two: Gal and Roses. Gal a biology teacher at a catholic school has a kidney disease and is going for dialysis; her passion is creating new breeds of roses by using cross pollination. As she awaits a kidney transplant her life changes and she begins to grow and realize that what once was important, changes over time. She wasn’t real close to her family over the year’s finds she is soon in the care of her sister’s teenage daughter Riley. Galilee (Gal) just had to use her first name once… I loved how Ms. Dilloway brought to light that sometimes the disappointments of the past aren’t always what we remember that to be as overtime our memories become rather distorted. As Gal’s memories surfaced she became more understanding of why things happen. With Riley now in her care she had to think of someone other than herself and grow up. As she grows within the frame of the story so does her prize winning roses. Throughout the story you see Gal as the rose with thorns and Riley who also has problems of her own wins Gal over and breaks those thorns showing that with a little love and trust love blooms just as the roses do with love and care. Roses need to be nurtured, cultivated, fed, watered and given love just as humans. Once Gal realizes how self-absorbed she has become she learns to emotionally connect with Riley as they both become friends learning to love and care for each other. I enjoyed that Ms. Dilloway gave Gal allot of baggage because it was really easy to connect with her as a person. Just as the roses bloomed so did Gal and Riley…a really sweet, sappy story of family, love, friendship and growth with lessons that we all need to re hear every once in a while as we tend to get caught up in life. It is nice to be needed. A book to sit and relax with as you curl up with a nice glass of wine or whatever your choice of drink is. You just may find out things about yourself that needed to be revisited long ago…
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
Galilee Garner can be as prickly and sensitive as the roses she breeds in her southern California backyard, but when her teenaged niece arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly, temporarily homeless and motherless, Gal manages far beyond providing nutrient requirements. Thirty-eight, unmarried, and with no children of her own, Gal is a strict disciplinarian. She teaches high school science and coaches the Science Team in addition to showing her roses at national shows. Although schooled in the scientific method --do this and then this to get this result--she knows there is also an elusive, intangible, unquantifiable factor in successful rose-breeding and in life called “luck.” Dilloway has written a story that engages our senses (sight, smell, touch) and our whole mind: we are presented with constraints and conditions that must be taken into account when cogitating the deceptively “small” and everyday ethical questions Gal encounters as she teaches, and as she competes in rose shows. I would not be surprised to learn that Ms. Dilloway was schooled in philosophy, so much does this charmingly light and easy read recall the work of Alexander McCall Smith, Scottish philosopher and author, whose series The Sunday Philosophy Club likewise raises sticky ethical issues we often encounter in our own lives. This novel qualifies as a romance, though it is not typical in any way. For one thing, our main character is crusty and opinionated—rendering her unlikeable in the eyes of many. But she is clever, too, and principled, and a very good teacher. She also has a life-threatening condition which hampers her activities and constrains her choices. While her illness has constrained some opportunities, it has also given her opportunities. It is when Gal realizes her bounty and discovers not what she lacks but what she already has, that she becomes a person that people want to have as a friend. I am a sucker for books about gardening, its failures and its delights. I also like books about people managing to overcome--or manage in spite of--things in their physical or psychological makeup that would hold them back from living a full life. This novel raises plenty of important issues that we might encounter in our own lives, and gently guides us through possible outcomes.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Galilee Gartner, a private high school biology teacher, raises roses as a hobby, but she’s not the kind who mails away for different styles or breeds of these gorgeous flowers.  She breeds them, experiments with different breeds that are both already popular, specialized and loved as well as trying to breed new types.  Her dream is to create a beautiful rose that also has a magnificent fragrance.  While she calls herself an amateur and may be compared to other famous rose breeders, she knows a million times more than the average lover of roses and is so deeply passionate about her hobby.   It brings her peace in the middle of her medical problems that require routine dialysis and avoidance of all infections in her very high risk status.  She’s not popular with students and is even described as too “tough” but she refuses to yield to mediocrity, an attitude that has come to threaten her job, even though she is tenured. She’s got one good friend, Dara, whom she could lose because of her caustic and hurtful comments; but Dara, an art teacher, is smarter than that and a genuinely compassion person who knows when to appear to help and when to cut to live her own life. Her life is about to change even more dramatically with the arrival of her niece, Riley, a teen who dresses in Gothic style that Gal finds appalling.  But now the surprises begin once Gal gets through her initial rage with her irresponsible sister, Becky, who is a functional drug addict and possibly alcoholic as well.  Becky knows she’s not wanted but has turned out to be quite a gal which Gal is about to discover.  The external attitude is deceiving indeed and our journey with Aunt Gal and Riley is filled with unexpected moments and growing maturity – on the part of both women! Gal even discovers she can develop a friendly relationship with a new chemistry teacher and that it is possible to merge science with art to the benefit of both teachers and students. Margaret Dilloway is a literate writer who has crafted a fascinating novel about the parallel of breeding relationships with roses, family and friends.  The quote is so apt in the beginning of the book, “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.”  What an absolutely phenomenal read with a message that inspires, fascinates and never descends to maudlin.   Highly recommended!