The Winter Rose

Written by Melanie Dobson
Review by Fiona Alison

In France 1943, Quaker aid worker, Grace Tonquin, and her colleague Roland Mercier are shepherding Jewish children, including nine-year-old Marguerite and her older brother, Élias, south towards Spain, where Grace, without the promised passeur, escorts them across the Pyrenees by herself, enduring terrible hardship. Along the way she is forced to make a far-reaching decision about one young boy in favour of the others in her care.

Charlie Tonquin is Abbie Hoult’s saviour, someone who is like a real father to her. In 2003, when she discovers he is dying, she goes in search of his estranged sister, Grace, who could provide the precious bone marrow he needs, as well as reconciliation. In Oregon, Addie hits brick walls in her search for the Tonquins, and nothing that leads her to Grace. While it took this reader a while to connect the threads between the characters from 1943 and 2003, it’s worth the wait because the backstory is expertly woven into current events, as we are taken back and forth across time.

Dobson illuminates the bravery of the aid workers who rescued orphaned Jewish children, but, more importantly, creates a plausible narrative for what might have come after, particularly if no relatives were found. This inspirational Christian novel broaches the controversial subject of how compelled we feel to save even those who do not wish to be rescued. It explores the true meaning of family and the lies we tell to protect those we love, how we falter when others fail us, and how children, irreparably damaged by the ravages of war, can find the path to redemption through faith.