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For the Roses
A Scottish professor wrote novelist Julie Garwood asking her to settle a dispute between herself and a student. Did the writer, who has written several novels set in Scotland, grow up in a certain community in the Highlands, as the professor believed, or in a town in the Lowlands where the student was from?
"I really enjoyed writing back: 'I grew up in Kansas City,'" Julie says in her distinctive, husky voice.
In her last novel, The Wedding, (Aug. '96), Garwood returned to the Scottish setting and characters of the classic, The Bride. Her deft handling of settings, both Scottish and English, and her plucky heroines have charmed readers for years. But it was her American-set novel, For the Roses, that wowed television producers from the outstanding, multi-Emmy winning Hallmark Hall of Fame series. They will turn the novel into a holiday television movie.
The novel follows a woman raised in the American West by four "brothers," orphans who adopted one another in the mean streets of 19th-century New York City. The head of her unorthodox family is Adam, a run-away slave whose mother nurtures the five children through the only means available to her, the post.
"I'm as curious to see who is cast as Adam as I am about Harrison, the hero," Julie says, "It will take a special actor to capture Adam's spirit." Casting was in progress at press time.
Garwood has a special affection for the Hallmark company. The author has worked with special education schools for years, often procuring supplies. Hallmark, which is headquartered in her hometown, always came through for her whenever she asked for help. "They had an attitude of, 'anything for the kids.' So I'm glad Hallmark is the one producing For the Roses," she says.
Special education has long been a high priority for Garwood. The woman who makes her living writing 100,000-word length historicals, 13 to date, was almost 12 before she learned to read. A simple tonsillectomy developed complications, causing her to miss a chunk of school. When she returned, the other students had learned to read.
"Instead of catching up," Julie says, "I covered up." She masked her illiteracy for the next few years, until her mother discovered her problem. "She was horrified; our family is highly educated," Julie explains. "But her attitude was 'You must have been smart to fool everyone for so long.' She found someone to tutor me, Sister Elizabeth, who also expected me to learn quickly, and let me know that. Children live up to adult expectations. And both Sister Elizabeth and Mom had high ones for me."
Those expectations led to, first, a high school diploma at age 16, then a college degree.
Julie recently saw the childhood friend who did her homework for her. "She said that she was glad schools were different today, that students wouldn't be able to cover up like I did. But from talking with kids, I know differently."
Long before she could read, Julie carried books around with her. "Books always meant intelligence to me," she says. "That's probably why all my heroines can read, even those who lived in a time when it wasn't fashionable. My heroines can be naive
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