The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

Publisher: Hyperion

Date: August 2011

Received as ARC from netgalley.com

From the snowy crevices of Mt. Everest to the foothills of Kilimanjaro, Willa Alden and Seamie  Finnegan cross paths painfully time after time. This third installment in The Tea Rose Trilogy continues the story of the Finnegan family, focusing primarily on the story of Seamie, the youngest of Fiona Finnegan’s brothers, and Willa, his climbing partner from their younger years. We met Seamie and Willa in the previous books which are part of The Tea Rose series. Seamie has now arrived home after years exploring the South Pole as part of Ernest Shackleton’s exploration team. Willa, a nomadic photographer and explorer, struggles to cope with life after the loss of her leg in a climbing accident on Kilimanjaro. Willa lives her solitary life in Rongbuk at the base of Mt. Everest at the beginning of the novel, photographing Everest and guiding climbers.

The story, however, encompasses so much more than just a narrative of the lives of Willa and Seamie. Included in the story are Joe and Fiona Bristow, Seamie’s sister and brother-in-law, and their large family, as well as Sid and India Malone, Seamie’s older brother and sister-in-law, and their family from America. The Finnegan family is large, messy, and entirely likeable. In addition to the family, many friends of the family appear again along with the introduction of some new colorful characters. The story picks up their lives and pulls them forward seamlessly.

The unsettled times just prior to World War I, the struggles of living in Europe during the war, the adventures of Lawrence of Arabia during the war, and women’s suffrage in England are portrayed realistically and vividly in this novel. The characters are tested by the turbulent events that occur and their realistic flaws are brought to life. These events and flaws make the story genuine. I love these characters and have enjoyed them through all three books. They touch your heart, make you angry, and leave you frustrated at times.

This book is a remarkable completion for The Tea Rose trilogy. Donnelly has done an outstanding job of tying up loose ends and finishing everyone’s story in a manner that leaves the reader feeling satisfied and happy at the end of the book. If you have not read the first two, I highly recommend starting at the beginning with The Tea Rose, follow up with The Winter Rose, and then read The Wild Rose. You will miss out tremendously by not reading the first two books of the series.

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