Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review for "The Wild Rose" by Jennifer Donnelly

It's 1914. England is about to declare war on Germany. The world is going to change forever, yet no one can dream of the devastation about to engulf the human race. Women are fighting for the right to vote. Explorers have landed on the South Pole and many are fighting to reach the peaks of the Himalayas. Set within this tumultuous time are Seamus Finnegan and Willa Alden, two people so meant to be together, yet so devastatingly torn apart.

Having successfully reached the South Pole, Seamus has become a famed explorer. He has all he needs....a family that loves him, peers seeking his company on future explorations, a passion that he has fulfilled. But yet....the fire in his eyes is missing.....his soul is void without its other half. He can never feel complete without Willa. But Willa made it clear...she walked away from him. She left him. She blamed him for the loss of her leg. She blamed him for the loss of her dreams.

Willa is living in Tibet, forever bound to the marvelous mountains that stole her leg. She lives with constant pain and overwhelming regret, both of which she tries to drown with pills, drugs and reckless risk-taking. She shouldn't have left Seamus. He is the other half of herself. She realizes this too late. She wants to go to him, to travel back to London and tell him she loves him, but too many years have passed and he would never forgive her. So, she continues on her isolated journey. Until.....word comes to Willa that her father is dying. She must get to him. She must travel back to London. It is at her father's funeral that Willa sees Seamus, and the pull between them is undeniable. And so is the fact that Seamus is now married to another woman, someone he thought would make him happy, someone he thought would make him forget Willa.

Opening this book was like visiting with old matter how long you've been apart, you settle right back into each other...familiar and true. It was exactly a year ago that I began this journey with these amazing characters. I met Fiona and Joe in the "Tea Rose" and instantly I was hooked. Right away I reached for the second book and not only found myself reunited with familiar characters, but I was rooting for Fiona's long lost brother and notorious crime boss, Sid, in "The Winter Rose". The adventure continues in this third and final installment, "The Wild Rose", where the story centers upon Seamus and Willa. But this book is not just a love story. It is so much more. Through these unforgettable characters, the author realistically and historically explores a time period filled with spies, villains, political struggles, and war heroes, including the legendary Lawrence of Arabia. The plot is complex, with twists and turns that had me at the edge of my seat, my finger hovering to turn the page and continue the exciting pace of the book. How Jennifer Donnelly manages to connect all threads of this vast story is unbelievable and yet, very believable. She is a true talent. She gives her readers an emotional ride. She strips her characters bare, all flaws there for the viewing, and yet the reader urges them on, willing them to get up and move love. So often I wanted to reach out and slap Willa, knock some sense into her, make her stop her self-destruction. There is no fluffy happily ever after. The love story is hard-fought, with fate pushing the lovers together, only to be lost to one another again.

Jennifer Donnelly has written an epic tale filled with strife, love, war and destruction, both physical and emotional. Yet she manages to end her story with a sense of hope...a light at the end of the tunnel, not only for Seamus and Willa, but for the world itself:
They had torn themselves apart, she and Seamie. Years ago. Here in Africa. And then in 1914, the world had torn itself apart. Now they, and the world, would put themselves back together. Slowly, with pain, regret, and with hope, they would find the way forward. She didn't know how, exactly. She had no map. No answers. No guarantees. All she had was this day. This impossible mountain rising before her. This sun and this sky. This man and this child. This terrible, wonderful love.

I am sad to say goodbye to these amazing characters. It has been wonderful crying, laughing and loving with the Finnegan family. Perhaps we'll meet again, amidst the costermongers and the hard-working poor of London, where this trilogy
began. Perhaps a new, younger member of the Finnegan family will continue the fight for the poor...perhaps a figure like the fiesty Katie. A reader can only hope.
I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

"The Wild Rose" is book #12 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.


  1. This sounds like a genuinely heart-warming book. great review!

  2. Wow, reading your review made me re-think my opinion of the book. This is very well-written. Great job!

  3. Oh the cover and title of the book are stunning. Goll, you review books so well. Loved this line, "his soul is void without its other half."

    I especially loved how you said the truth, you wanted to smack one of the characters. You, my friend, give your readers the truth. So incredible!

  4. Wonderful review Mandy.

    My mom is desparately waiting for this to come out. She read the first two and loved them!

  5. Great review! I love a book that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride! I will certainly have to look this one up!


  6. So I just bought this book- its my new birthday gift. Thank you for helping me find it.


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