About the Book

Corn Rose
By Karen Ross Epp

Rose Calamia is a first generation Italian American working girl in a 1945 aircraft plant, when she meets Iowa farm boy, Jack Conner. Jack has recently been discharged from the Army and is still licking his wounds from an all too familiar war time casualty–a “Dear John” followed by divorce. When their love affair leads to a wedding and a move to Jack’s home community, Rose is totally unprepared for the life that awaits her in rural Iowa. Ever the sheltered daughter and sister in a family steeped in old world traditions, Rose is exposed to Jack’s world which is the polar opposite.

Living with her in-laws for the first few months of marriage, Rose is homesick and unsure of her hasty decision to move back to the Midwest with her husband of three months. On top of all the other adjustments (no modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing) Rose harbors a secret, her pregnancy. Her mother-in-law, Bess is determined to sabotage Jack’s marriage to this skinny foreigner and “city gal,” whose skin is dark and ways unlike any she’s familiar with. Rose’s determination to endure and love her husband is tested when she is called home for her mother’s funeral. Once back in warm, sunny California — Iowa, Jack, and the harsh Midwest seem worlds away. Rose has to decide if what she wants is in Iowa with her husband or in the comfortable surroundings of California and family –and an old flame who awakens her heart in ways she thought were dead.

Rose’s struggle, like so many women of her generation, is a tug-of-war between what is expected and what desires are left over for her in the ash-heap of duty and subservience. Rose’s final decision will test her character and surprise her harshest critiques.

4 thoughts on “About the Book

  1. Karen, I just finished your book. It was amazing….I couldn’t put it down. What a tribute to your mom….I didn’t realize what an interesting life she led. What a sacrifice she made in moving from the comforts of CA to Iowa. You told the story in a way that made me feel as though I knew her. Thanks for sharing this part of your life.


  2. Truly, “Corn Rose” is an American story opening with Jack Conner patrolling Venice Beach in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, contemplating his future in the military so far from home. A beautiful young Italian woman, Rose would soon surprise herself into his life even as Jack would soon surprise himself into her life. From the shores of California to a family working farm in Iowa these two young lovers journey not only through changing landscapes, but also through family relationships and inherited visions to a life bound together by love, hard work and faith. A tribute to a woman who found her way into the hearts of those she met, it is a story that speaks to the inner strength of women everywhere finding their grit within one another. I am thankful for women like Rose who model womanhood for their daughters and sisters of all cultures.


  3. This sound like a wonderful book. I’ve just downloaded it to my Kindle and look forward to learning more about Rose. I love stories about this era in American history, and about strong women like your mother. This will be my Thanksgiving holiday reading.


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