The stories from The Tea Rose (2002) and The Winter Rose (2008) are intertwined to reacquaint us with characters from the previous novels. Reading the other books in the trilogy will enhance your enjoyment of The Wild Rose, but in case you haven’t, Donnelly fills us in on sufficient background. That attempt proves a bit mind-boggling because of the myriad of characters and sub-plots it produces. This reader was sad that minor roles are given to some of the characters I came to love in the first two books.
The novel does yield a refreshing dose of adventure not found in the first part of the trilogy. Their appeal lies in Donnelly’s strong, never-give-up female characters, Fiona and India. That element is curiously lacking in The Wild Rose. Here, the author chooses a different tack.
A third book in any trilogy is tricky. Donnelly turns the tables on us by giving her main characters a surprising twist. In The Wild Rose, main characters Willa and Seamie are unlikable, self-absorbed people. Driven Willa uses any quest (mountain, man, or fame) as a coping mechanism for her inability to accept her lost limb. When Seamie marries Jenny we are hopeful, but he soon becomes devoid of backbone or honor until the end of the book. Not villains, Willa and Seamie are simply flawed humans clawing their way out of their misery. Some readers may balk at this abrupt change in writing technique. This reviewer found it refreshing. Irritating characters can be more interesting than protagonists. Changing things up a bit is a bold author’s prerogative.
Some of the book’s themes converge on our current world state, elevating the book’s relevance. Political intricacies, horrors of war, drug abuse, and economic crisis mirror many issues facing us today.
Despite the fact that I longed for more character development and fewer characters, I couldn’t put the book down. The plot twists seemed outrageous at times, but the novel is engrossing and seductive. Donnelly has a vivid imagination and it gushes through her writing.
Hyperion graciously supplied the review copy.