The cover of 'Rescuing Rose' is vibrant pink, suggesting that this is a fluffy, throwaway modern fairytale for those of us who secretly long for the "happy ever after" ending of those bedtime stories we enjoyed in childhood. In making this surmise, you wouldn't be too far off the truth as 'Rescuing Rose' is just that: a sweet, sentimental and uplifting story with fairy godmothers and wicked witches disguised as neighbours and marriage counsellors. But it is not without its flaws, and these shortcomings unfortunately spoil the overall impact of the story.
'Rescuing Rose' tells the story of Rose Costelloe, an agony aunt with a national newspaper in London. While Rose enjoys solving other people's problems, her own life is a mess. She has just broken up with her husband of less than a year, has bought a house she cannot afford and her inner turmoil over having been adopted as a baby unconsciously affects every aspect of her life and her relationships with other people.
However, moving into Hope Street changes her life forever. She takes Theo in as a lodger and makes a new friend in next-door neighbour Beverley and her unusual companion Trevor. This coincides with Rose finding herself a stalker and ending up on the front pages of the national newspapers for all the wrong reasons.
There are plenty of positive aspects to Wolff's fourth novel, not least Rose's battle with coming to terms with being adopted, which is dealt with great care, perception and sensitivity on Wolff's part. Although it is Rose's love life which takes central stage, it is the unfolding story of her origins that tugs most at the heartstrings.
Wolff has also created a supporting cast of likeable, entertaining characters while even the baddies of the piece are amusing. However, the very fact that these characters are so interesting means that we feel cheated at the end when the loose ends of their previously realistic existence are neatly tied up without any credible explanation. Either the events have unfolded while narrator Rose has been too wrapped up in herself to notice what has been going on or else the actions and reactions of characters to events are not consistent with what has gone before and it is an unsatisfactory conclusion. Also, the inevitable happy-ever-after ending for Rose, although expected - considering the tone and style of the novel - is somewhat hollow because we know only too well by that stage from Rose's profession that life is never perfect.