Monday, June 9, 2008

Julie's Review: The Winter Rose


In late Victorian London, idealistic new medical school graduate India Selwyn Jones goes to work at a clinic in the city's poorest neighborhood, much to the dismay of her aristocratic mother and ambitious fiancé, political up-and-comer Freddie Lytton. The squalor is a bit much for India, but she manages to keep her emotions under control until she meets underworld crime boss Sid Malone. Sid begins as India's nemesis, becomes her patient and ends up something much more than that. What India doesn't know is that Sid is the brother of tea heiress Fiona Bristow, wife of self-made, highly principled businessman Joseph Bristow. What Sid doesn't know is that India's fiancé is as ruthless as Sid's most ruthless henchman, willing to commit theft, betrayal and even murder to launch his career, force India out of hers and bring down Sid in the process. In typical epic style, Donnelly (The Tea Rose) alternates India's story with Sid's, Freddie's, Joseph's and Fiona's, leading the reader through turn-of-the-century England from the Houses of Parliament to ale houses and whore houses, and from London to Africa and beyond. It's all familiar stuff, but Donnelly's passion and energy will keep readers turning the many pages, rooting for India and the gruff underworld boss she loves.'s Weekly

Review: I knew it had to be a great book when Lisa rated it so highly and boy was she right!! I LOVED this book. At first I thought a 700+ page book might take me a while with everything else going on in my life but not this story. I think to be considered an epic it a story needs to span decades not just years but with the settings of this novel in London and Africa, I kind of thought of it as an epic. There really wasn't a character I didn't love or love to hate, they were all very well rounded and so well written. I loved how the main female lead, started out very focused and closed off and ended up opening herself up only to end up in the place she didn't want to. The whole cast of characters fulfilled their roles perfectly. I would like to know more about Fiona and Joe so I might be reading The Tea Rose: A Novel sooner than later.

The way Ms. Donnelly wrote the novel suggests to me that a lot of research went into the story. The way she wrote about the politics of the early 1900s in London and then the vividness she brought to the story when writing about Africa made you feel like you were there. I felt like I was transported back to a time when things were so god awful it makes you thankful for the fight that these people went through to make things better for us now. Can you imagine a place where we still work 16 hours a day for little or nothing? Now don't get me wrong I know there are still place like that but we've come a long way from the East End of London.

I don't want to give much away but towards the end of the book a character has a revelation and it seems a bit unlikely that this character would draw that conclusion. It seems like a good way of wrapping up a storyline but a bit unrealistic to me.

If you are looking for a great character driven novel, you will find it in The Winter Rose.

Final Take: 4.75/5


- Lisa's Review: The Winter Rose


Wendy June 9, 2008 at 9:00 PM  

Oh, I really enjoyed this one too! If you're interested, I reviewed it here. I also didn't read the first of the series :) And I blew through this 700 page book in no time!

tinylittlelibrarian June 10, 2008 at 9:32 PM  

Cool! The Tea Rose is on my Triple 8 list for historical fiction, so I'll be reading it this year and now I know there's an excellent sequel. Thanks for the review.

Marg June 18, 2008 at 7:18 AM  

I liked the first book, but loved this one. Can't wait for the third book in the trilogy.

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