Gather Ye Rosebuds by Jeannette Covert Nolan is a delightful novel published in the 1940’s which I came across while searching for a different book in the Library of Congress catalog of books on tape. My gamble paid off which is more than can be said for one of the characters in the story.
The tale begins in 1910 with Major Cameron, a former officer in the Confederate Army, sitting in full regalia in a small Indiana town seeking attention as he alone commemorates the anniversary of Appomattox 45 years afterward. By this action, the author establishes the quirky nature of the man.
Major Cameron heads a household consisting of a wife Amy, who is much less reserved than her husband, and their five children. The Major lives in a dreamworld believing his financial circumstances will greatly change when the book he is writing is published. Then he’ll use his “riches” to travel with his daughters in hopes of securing suitable husbands for them in distant places. In the meantime, he’s gainfully employed as a traveling salesman of tobacco products. However, fate steps in when he is drawn-in by two conmen who separate him and others from their money. The Major, an easily duped man of honor, innocently accepts the offered position of President of the company and begins selling stock certificates in the fictitious company to anyone who will purchase them; many of them are tobacco customers along his sales route.
The two Cameron daughters of marrying age are different as night and day. One is a realist and the other, a dreamer. Without their knowing, both cross paths with one of the conmen who attempts to woo them without knowing they are related to each other, much less the Major’s daughters.
The story follows a year of the family’s lives as the Major struggles to sell stock certificates and his eldest daughter Rose falls in love with one of the conmen clueless she is being duped in a different way than her father who has kept secret his involvement in the oil company which he naively believes is legitimate.
Predictably, the truth eventually comes out and it’s an exciting narrative. There are additional plot lines involving other family, relatives, and acquaintances, but the cons are at the heart of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am grateful it found me! They don’t write books like this anymore and that’s what makes this one so special! Highly recommended!