The Wild Rose

Written by Jennifer Donnelly
Review by Tamela McCann

Jennifer Donnelly’s The Wild Rose is the third of her celebrated “Rose” novels, and it is every bit as wonderful as the previous two books. Still following the Finnegan family, The Wild Rose focuses mainly on Seamie and his estranged love, Willa. Deliberately distancing herself from Seamie after a tragic accident, Willa is called home to England after the death of her father and finds that her love for the now-married Seamie cannot be denied. As World War I approaches, however, more than just marriage will separate the lovers as the landscape moves between London, Damascus, and Paris; lies, espionage, imprisonment, drug use, and the horrors of war swirl around all members of the Finnegan clan as Seamie and Willa slowly find their way beyond terrible hurt and crushed expectations.

The Wild Rose is filled with the rich description and heartbreaking circumstances of the previous novels; Donnelly moves deftly through exotic locales and actual historic events. Her gift, however, is in her characterizations. Not only do I feel as though I’m visiting with dear friends; I am experiencing their lives through Donnelly’s vibrant words. In particular, Donnelly’s descriptions of the tragedies of World War I and the emergence of women’s rights as a major source for change were riveting. I cried with Fiona’s heartbreak and I cheered Sid as he once again took on the mob scene, but mostly I just luxuriated in the world and family Donnelly has created. If the final resolution to the espionage thread was a bit too convenient, I can overlook that flaw because this is a novel not to be missed for its strong emotion and its historical detail. Highly recommended.