Wild Roses tells the story of 17-year old Cassie Morgan, and the way she and her mother handle living with a temperamental and, at times, almost insane musician.
Dino Cavalli is a world-renowned violinist, and he’s also Cassie’s stepfather. At first, he seems like only a bully and an egomaniac, but when he goes off his medication because it blocks his creativity, he becomes manic, paranoid, and destructive.
While Dino never actually hurts Cassie or her mother physically, there are times in the book where the scene is so intense and frightening that I tense my muscles in expectation that he might. Fortunately, he never crosses that line, but unsurprisingly, he does finally hit someone towards the end of the book.
The more interesting story in the book though, is the romance between Cassie and Ian Waters, who happens to be Dino’s student. Ian is an extremely talented violinist who might have a chance to get a full scholarship into the most prestigious school for musicians.
Of course, his romance with Cassie gets in the way of his music, or you could say that his music gets in the way of his romance with Cassie. Either way, Dino isn’t happy, and the situation is full of difficult choices for Ian and Cassie.
It’s interesting to note how the book portrays how difficult it can be living with and loving talented musicians. Both Cassie and her mother have to cater to the needs and the moods of the musicians they love, letting go of what they want in deference to what talent and genius need.
I relate to this on a personal level because I married a very talented musician after making a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never get involved with musicians! I had dated musicians before my husband, and I always felt like I wasn’t important and that their needs always came first.
To be fair, it wasn’t so much that they treated me badly, but more that they were oversensitive and I always had to be careful what I said and did so that I wouldn’t hurt their feelings inadvertently. It got so tiring that I gave up dating musicians until my husband came along.
What drew me to him and what made me forget my promise of not ever getting involved with a musician again is the fact that he’s the most amazing musician I’ve ever met, and he’s still as down to earth as anyone with his measure of talent can get. He’s sensitive but not overly so, and a lot of the time, he puts my needs before his.
Obviously, living with my husband is nowhere near as dramatic as Cassie and her mother living with Dino, but what I relate to is the deference to genius. My husband never expects this accommodation, and in fact, sometimes will cancel a gig for my convenience instead, but always to my disapproval.
There’s this feeling that I, as a mere mortal, get about not getting in the way of genius. I think my husband is amazing, and I think he’s got potential for huge success, and because of that, I always insist that his music comes first.
So reading this book, while I feel that Dino is too volatile and definitely not someone I’d like to live with no matter how talented he is, I started wondering about my own life with a musical genius and why I so naturally defer to his music.
Wild Roses mentions many times how everyone is moved to tears when they listen to Dino’s music. No matter how horrible Dino is as a person, and no matter how much people may dislike him, all is forgiven when they hear his music.
I think that’s the key; we yield to talented musicians because their work touches us and makes us feel things we otherwise would never feel, and somehow our instinct is to do whatever we can to make sure that the music survives.
Wild Roses is an engrossing book and I like that it made me think about my own relationship with a musician and how we all need music in our lives. Deb Caletti is an excellent writer and I will definitely be reading more of her books.