“The Winter Rose” by Melanie Dobson

The Winter Rose

Melanie Dobson
Tyndale House (2022)
ISBN 978-14964-4422-6

Reviewed by Cynthia Hammell for Reader Views (12/2021)

Addie Hoult considers Charlie and Emma, founders of the Sale Creek Home for Girls in Tennessee, her “family.” The couple loved her after her troubled past and helped her understand God’s love. In 2003, Charlie becomes critically ill with MDS Myelodysplastic syndrome and needs a bone marrow donor. Emma and Addie want to find out if Charlie has any living relatives. Charlie refuses to reveal his past. Now widowed and pregnant, Addie travels from Tennessee to Oregon to make a search for his Charlie’s family. The search leads to Grace Tonquin, a Quaker nurse from Oregon, who helped 11 French Jewish children flee to Spain across the Pyrenees mountains. Will Addie find a match or at least help Charlie make peace with his past? As Addie searches for the answers, she finds more direction for her own future.

The plot of Dobson’s time-shifting story is clear and intriguing. It illuminates a part of WWII, which may be unfamiliar to many readers, particularly the Quakers’ work in France. It also shows the effects of being traumatized by war, as well as people struggling with alcohol and substance abuse. Occasionally, Dobson strings three alliterative words as a device primarily during Addie’s part of the narrative. One example is,

“She wanted to sit in this place, for hours even, to bask in its beauty and strength. So, the tree could help shoulder the pain. Trees. Twigs. Tears (p.114).”

She uses this in her writing to simulate real thought. The winter rose and the willow tree are symbols of building strength in difficult circumstances and being “rooted,” in one’s faith and “bending without breaking.”

 This is a story of God’s forgiveness, redemption, and healing of the past. We see how Grace and Addie’s faith is tested in different circumstances and how it makes a difference in the character’s lives. We also see Charlie let go of the guilt of his past. Dobson succeeds in creating a story which will appeal to readers of Christian fiction and keep them wondering about the outcome until the end.

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