The Wild Rose
London, 1914. World War I is looming on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and global explorers are pushing the limits of endurance at the Poles and in the deserts. into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters:
- Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while climbing Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life.
- Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he marries a beautiful young woman back home in England.
- Max von Brandt, a handsome sophisticate who courts high society women, but who has a secret agenda as a German spy;
- and many others.
It took me a while to get into this book. It started abysmally with both of the main characters, Willa and Seamie, sleeping with people they didn't care about because they weren't with each other. I never really came to like either of them. Willa really annoyed me with her stupidity and Seamie with his selfishness. And poor Jennie (Seamie's wife), though she started out all right, was ruined by the pair of them. (With some help from Max von Brandt.)
Max von Brandt is what I would call a smooth operator, and I mean that in a slimy, unpleasant sort of way. I could understand his motives, but his methods made me hate him. There were times when I felt like the author wanted me to feel sorry for him, but I just couldn't.
Now that I have complained about all of the main characters, I have to admit that I really liked the minor ones. Fiona and Joe (Seamie's sister and her husband) are lovely, likable people with a fun daughter. They stand up for what they believe in and support their family. Likewise, Sid and India (Seamie's brother and his wife) are about ten times more likable and interesting than Willa and Seamie.
The Wild Rose has an interesting story set in a fascinating time. The characters rub elbows with Winston Churchill, Ernest Shackleton, and Lawrence of Arabia to mention only a few. The amount of name-dropping in this book borders on the ridiculous. World War I is one of my favorite time periods to read about, so I enjoyed the history. The plot is complicated and involves just a few too many coincidences for my taste, but it was still, for the most part, enjoyable. What I did not like was the adultery. I really, really dislike adultery. I don't care that he loved her before he loved his wife, that is no excuse for such behavior.
All in all, this book was okay. I disliked the main characters but the minor characters were good enough to keep me reading. There were some aspects of the story that I hated but others I really liked. I haven't read The Tea Rose or The Winter Rose yet, but I think I will like them better because they tell the stories of Joe and Fiona, Sid and India, who are my favorite characters in this book.
I would recommend this book to people who like long, complicated historical romances. I don't highly recommend it, but it wasn't bad. I would probably give it three stars.
Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).
I give this an 8.10 for multiple uses of strong language.
This gets an 8.10 in sexuality for multiple scenes of various explicitness.
I rate this book a 6.10 in violence for battles, beatings and murder.