Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Winter Rose is in full bloom for fine reading

We begin with Sid Malone,the biggest crime boss in the Whitechapel section of London in 1900,who is determined to not be found by those familiar with his past as Charlie Finnegan,a young man so traumatized by the tragedies that befell his impoverished family that he wound up taking another man's identity and turning to a life of crime.

Entering his world is the newly graduated Dr. India Selwyn Jones,a passionate young woman who has bucked the die hard traditions of her wealthy family to pursue her dream of starting a clinic for poor women and children. Her ambitious fiance,Frederick Lytton,is an up and coming politician determined to gain support and some good publicity by proclaiming Sid Malone as his top priority in bringing law and order to the neighborhood.

At first,India is quick to judge about how to improve the lives of folks in Whitechapel by preaching virtue and the benefits of better eating habits but during her internship at an overcrowded clinic run by the arrogant Dr. Gifford changes some of her outlook,along with Ella Moskowitz,her nurse and best friend who joins India in her goal of setting up a free clinic.

The one who truly opens her eyes as well as her heart is Sid Malone,who becomes a patient of India's after a nasty fall during a robbery gives him a wound that eventually gets dangerously infected. While tending him during his illness,India starts to see that there is more to him than just his tough guy reputation and so does he in return. The two of them form a reluctant friendship that grows into love. A love that leads them into some unexpected places and complicates more than one life in the bargain.

Jennifer Donnelly's The Winter Rose is a follow-up to her earlier book,The Tea Rose,which is said by the author to be the first two titles of a trilogy. I did read The Tea Rose first,but Donnelly has made it possible to enjoy Winter Rose for folks who haven't been introduced to her characters before by neatly giving us a quick recap of necessary info in the right places and bringing fresh energy to her historical fictional realm along for the ride.

Donnelly writes what I consider to be steadfast sagas,the kind that Babara Taylor Bradford(who has given her seal of approval to Winter Rose)and company used to stock bookshelves with. It's a grand old genre that Donnelly puts her own unique twist on,giving her readers smart yet emotional vulnerable characters who deal with the challenges thrown their way as best as they can without resorting to easy outs and melodramatics.

Instead, we're given compelling plot turns,folks that are not much different from those we know in these modern times and subtle touches of historical information that enhance your knowledge of that time and place as well as understand the limited options that her characters have to work with.

The Winter Rose will be available everywhere on January 8,and if you're in search of a "thumping good read" to settle down with as you take your tea,this book perfectly hits the spot. Jennifer Donnelly has an excellent ear for the rhythms of storytelling that flow seemingly effortless along the paths her characters must go down,sometimes separately but always manage to find a happy convergence towards a well earned and hoped for conclusion. Let her books find a sunny spot in your mental garden and enjoy their lovely scents for a long time to come.


Jennifer Donnelly said...

Dear Lady T,

Thank you so much for the lovely book review! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed The Winter Rose, and I'm very grateful for your kind words. I had fun prowling around your very cool site and will be back to visit again.

Til then, best regards, and thank you again.

Jennifer D.

lady t said...

Thank you for stopping by,Jennifer! Please feel free to drop in anytime:)