I read a review for The Rose-Garden Husband over on The Captive Reader, and I must say that while Claire said she enjoyed the book, she also admitted to being frustrated by it – probably because everything works out for the book’s heroine with much greater ease than it ever seems to in real life!
Phyllis is a librarian in the early 1900’s (the book was published in 1915), and her life is rather a hard one. Long working hours, low wages, a lonely boarding house – most of the time Phyllis’s natural optimism is able to help her through, but on the dreary day in which our story begins, she is feeling rather low and frustrated. What she really wishes, she realizes, is for a lovely home with a rose garden, and a husband. And because this is a story instead of real life, her wish is granted almost immediately!
Widdemer manages to marry Phyllis off to a young man who was in a bad automobile accident several years earlier and is now unable to walk. An invalid, his mother has cared for him ever since, but now she is very sick and dying, and is afraid that no one will care for her son when she is gone. Believing that a wife would have more commitment than mere hired nurses, she asks her old friend and attorney to find a proper young woman to care for her son when she is gone. While the premise sounds rather far-fetched, Widdemer actually pulls it off rather well.
Of course, Phyllis brings light and sunshine (and roses) into Allan’s life, and there are happy endings all around. The story is nothing if not predictable, but was still told in such a warm and happy tone that it was just a delight to read. Phyllis isn’t perfect, but she seemed like she would make a wonderful friend to have, and I was very glad to see her happy ending.
The Wishing-Ring Man is a loose sequel, taking place several years later. The heroine of this story is Joy, a young orphan who has lived with her grandparents her entire life. Her grandfather is a famous poet, so Joy has had a rather strange upbringing – he considers her his muse, and writes many poems dedicated to her, and Joy wears rather ridiculous flowing clothes and has to attend all of his literary gatherings. I’m making this sound a little weird and creepy, but it isn’t presented that way at all. Joy’s grandfather is definitely pompous and self-centered, but not at all creepy.
Still, Joy is beginning to realize that her life isn’t exactly normal, and she wishes that she could have some ‘regular’ adventures. Through a series of events, she and her grandparents end up spending a summer in a little cabin-camp in the mountains. There, she meets our old friends Allan and Phyllis, now the happy parents of two adorable children. When Phyllis invites Joy to come stay with them for a month, Joy’s grandpa won’t let her – he has always said that the only way she could leave his care was if she was safely engaged. So… Phyllis announces her engagement to a man she has never met, which seems like a brilliant plan… until he shows up!
Honestly, once I got through the rather weird beginning, I actually liked The Wishing-Ring Man even better. Joy and John are so adorable together, and I loved the fact that the ‘fake relationship trope’ has apparently been around a very long time.
Both of these stories were completely predictable and completely enjoyable. I actually enjoyed the relationship between Phyllis and Allan even more in the second book as well – they are so happy together and their family is adorable. I just wanted to be friends with everyone!
These books are both available as free Kindle books, so there is no reason not to read them as soon as you can. They are perfect stories for relaxing on a wintry evening. Easy 4/5 for both and definitely recommended.