Aristocrat India Selwyn Jones dares to live her life according to the dictates of her heart. While she is raised in a society that breeds women to marry important men, bear their heirs and manage their homes and their social lives, India knows there is more to life than the next dinner party or a new ball gown. She attends the London School of Medicine for Women against the wishes of her family and becomes a doctor in 1900s London, when the only women in the medical profession are nurses.
Caring and compassionate India chooses to start practicing medicine in Whitechapel, a down-and-out area of London where the poor and the desperate fight to stay alive. The ideals she possesses when she begins her career soon fade as reality intrudes, and India is quickly enlightened as to the ravages of poverty and hopelessness.
India butts heads immediately with her supervising physician who refuses to “waste” chloroform on women in childbirth. To do so would interfere with God’s will since birth pains are, in his opinion, good for them. Another issue arises when India desires to distribute birth control to women who are worn out from having too many children too close together. It takes but a short while to see what she’s up against.
While the chances of India and gangster Sid Malone crossing paths would have been miniscule a mere matter of months before, when Sid is injured and near death, India treats him and saves his life. Although she abhors everything the man stands for, she can’t help but be drawn to him as he hovers near death. Saving his life and talking with him as he recovers builds a strong bond between this couple from different backgrounds.
In addition to her dedication to her career, India is also committed to marrying childhood companion and confidante Freddie Lytton, an up-and-coming member of the House of Commons. Freddie adds his protestations to those of India’s family and applies as much pressure as possible to get India to set a wedding date. After all, India is a woman of means, and Freddie needs money to finance his political career. Unfortunately for India, she has no idea to what lengths Freddie will go in order to secure her and her fortune, and separate her from the new life and the man she has come to love.
THE WINTER ROSE, the second installment of a trilogy that started with THE TEA ROSE, is a beautiful, emotional and memorable tale. Familiar and beloved characters from the previous book play a big part in this one, and readers of THE TEA ROSE will be eager to find out what they are doing now. Its 700 pages flew by as I kept turning them one after another, lost in the story of these characters I came to know and love.
I read voraciously, and while most books entertain or amuse me, THE WINTER ROSE truly touched me. India and Sid captured my attention and my heart. Their joys were my joys, their heartaches were my heartaches, and I was spellbound by this couple and their adventures right up until the last page.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 8, 2008