Thursday, December 9, 2010
The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
"When India Selwyn Jones graduates from the London School of Medicine for Women in 1900, she is advised to set up her practice in a fashionable neighborhood. Instead, the idealistic India chooses to work in the East End, serving the poor. There, India meets Sid Malone, one of London's most notorious gangsters. Before long, an unpredictable, passionate, and bittersweet affair ensues."
(from the publisher)
I enjoyed Donnelly's The Tea Rose very much, but I absolutely ADORED The Winter Rose! I had forgotten how much I had become emotionally invested in Fiona and Joe's story and the tragedies and triumphs of the Finnegan family, but it all came flooding back as I got lost in their turn-of-the-century London world once again. Joe and Fiona are now blissfully married with a child, and Fiona is busy supporting her husband's political career and her own involvement in her tea empire. While life has brought them much happiness, they will once again experience trying times, challenges, and a test of the strength of their bond.
The saga, however, focuses on my favorite character in the novel: aristocratic, idealistic graduate of medical school, India Selwyn Jones; she is a thoroughly likeable character who sets out to change the world of healthcare for women and children by serving the poor and destitute of Whitechapel. Her passion and dedication is sincere, but as a woman in the medical field, she faces an uphill battle and is appalled by the outdated medical practices of her male superior and his indifference to the suffering of women. Although she is engaged to Freddie Litton (an unscrupulous, power-hungry cad with political aspirations and an eye on India's wealth), she remains committed to medicine despite his insistence that she give up working once they are married.
India's entire world changes when a notorious underworld criminal, Sid Malone (remember his true identity from The Tea Rose?) is brought to her for medical help as he was near death from an accident. She works tirelessly to save him, and in the long process, becomes intrigued and drawn to him -- and he to India. I became totally consumed with the story of India and Sid.....she wants so desperately to save Sid from himself, to turn his life around, that is was just heartbreaking. And for once in his life, he has found someone who touches his heart. Such an unlikely pair....she, a doctor with a dream of opening a clinic for women to better the world, and Sid, the notorious criminal boss who is feared by all and wanted for murder, but will give the shirt off his back to warm a sleeping child in the trash....ah! such angst! Their star-crossed, bittersweet romance tugged at my heart and I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn't reading the book! How could their love survive such impossible odds?
The Winter Rose was an incredible novel, highly suspenseful and gripping, with richly drawn characters and an amazing, complex plot -- passion, revenge, murder, secrets, greed, vendettas, tragedy, and triumphs -- with an ending that took my breath away! Highly, highly recommended!
5/5 stars - LOVED it!
Title: The Winter Rose
Author: Jennifer Donnelly