Vincent, having grown up as the privileged daughter of artists, has a lovely life in many ways. At forty-four, she enjoys strolling the streets of Paris and teaching at the modern art museum; she has a vibrant group of friends; and she's even caught the eye of a young, charismatic man named Loup. But Vincent is also in Paris to escape a painful betrayal: her husband, Cillian, has published a bestselling book divulging secrets about their marriage and his own past, hinting that when he was a teenager, he may have had a child with a young woman back in Dublin--before he moved to California and never returned. Now estranged from her husband, Vincent has agreed to see Cillian again at their son's wedding the following summer, but Loup introduces new complications. Soon they begin an intense affair, and somewhere between dinners made together, cigarettes smoked in the moonlight, hazy evenings in nightclubs, and long, starry walks along the Seine, Vincent feels herself loosening and blossoming. As Cillian does all he can to win her back, Vincent must decide what she wants . . . and who she will be.
Some readers may find Vincent’s reaction to her husband’s secret too self-pitying and outlandish, while others may think that Loup is too childish and impossible, but I doubt that anyone can deny that there is something endlessly compelling about each of Vincent’s great loves ... what makes Half-Blown Rose absolutely ripe for conversation, introspection and self-discovery is the way that Cross-Smith does not hold one type of love over the other, exploring instead the ins and outs of all different kinds ... It may seem like a lot to handle, but Cross-Smith is a confident, deft writer who is comfortable exploring any dynamic as long as she has a strong character to start with. Lucky for her, this too comes naturally, making her grander exaltations of love and passion feel every bit as fate-driven and heady as they do grounded and deeply raw and human ... I don’t expect that Half-Blown Rose will be for every reader, but that statement has little to do with Cross-Smith’s talent, which is an undeniable fact. While some will love the book immediately and want to whisk it away to Paris, it is those who are made uncomfortable by the story and the topics it explores who need it most of all ... a guaranteed summer steamer and a surefire book club pick for readers of all ages.
Cross-Smith continues to weave spellbinding tales of love and lust in the wake of adversity ... Cross-Smith never allows Vincent’s indecisiveness to come off as naivete or weakness; she is an utterly appealing heroine. Another winning novel from Cross-Smith.
Long-winded ... A refreshing take on a woman’s story of midlife upheaval, but there isn’t much in the way of narrative momentum, and Vincent’s vacillation between Cillian and Loup ends up feeling like the author is merely spinning her wheels. This has its moments, but it’s not Cross-Smith’s best.