Erin Kelly, the author of ‘He Said, She Said’ and ‘Watch Her Fall’, gives a great reading experience in all her novels. ‘The Sick Rose’ was written after the success of ‘The Poison Tree,’ but it is equally stunning.
‘The Sick Rose’ is a novel of secrets and clandestine relationships. Erin Kelly is also a master in setting different timelines and multiple points of view. The story is narrated from a view of a number of characters. The most important voices to the story are Louisa Trevelyan and Paul Seaforth. Louisa is portrayed as a bohemian teenager and rebel. She comes from a middle-class family but fails to secure a place in the university due to her poor A-levels. Therefore, she does not follow her sister in the footsteps to study medicine. She still lives in a family home but refuses to do something more productive with her gap year. That leads her to lead a bohemian life while working in a shop with esoteric oils. Through her boss, she encounters a hippy musician, and they have a passionate affair. The affair ends in the death of Louisa’s lover.
The Second Half
Parallelly to Louisa’s early years, there is another narrative when we meet her in her middle age. Within this narrative, Louise spends her days renovating the grounds of a dilapidating Elizabethan mansion.
During this time, she encounters another character, Paul. The latter was engaged in some criminal activities that were led by his schoolyard protector, Daniel. These activities were getting much more into a criminal end of things, and the days came when Paul has to testify against his friend to avoid prison.
Paul is only nineteen at the time, but an affair develops between him and Louisa. Their criminal past, nevertheless, comes in the way.
The ending is tragic for the main characters as they lose their lives. Their memory is contained in a plate with the inscription dedicated to their achievements in the garden they helped create.