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on March 17, 2003
In the 1880's in London, we meet Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow, both from the poor area of Whitechapel. Fiona and Joe have dreams. They are saving to open up their own story at which time they will wed. Fiona's father, Paddy, is a docker for Burton Tea where Fiona packs tea.
Joe takes a job on the other side of town; from this point forward things in Fiona's life take a turn for the worst. But, this spunky English woman cannot be brought down. Fiona flees to New York City with her 5 year-old brother, her only remaining family, in search of a better life with her Uncle Michael.
Once, she arrives in NYC things at Uncle Michael's need help. With the help of her newfound friends, Nicholas, Mary, Maddie and others, Fiona begins building an empire never forgetting about London, Burton Tea and the horrible things that happened to her family. She vows revenge; does she get it? You will have to turn the pages yourself to find out. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.
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on March 14, 2003
Jennifer Donnelly quickly grabs your attention and totally captivates you with the story of star crossed lovers, Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow. I loved this book so much that I found it very difficult to put down and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading it.
Fiona and Joe are the perfect couple who share the same dream of opening a shop and they are very much in love. However, their circumstances change for the worst when Joe is tricked into a marriage to another woman and Fiona must flee to New York with her 4 year old brother to escape from the men who murdered her father. This is a story of true survival after life throws you a curve ball and it lives on in your mind for weeks after you have turned the last page. The Characters in this book are very well written and I really began to care for them, especially Fiona.
I'm anxiously awaiting a second book by Jennifer Donnelly and will purchase it as soon as its released. I highly recommend reading The Tea Rose to everyone.
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on March 3, 2003
Are you looking to be truly captivated by a novel? Are you looking to step outisde of your world for a little while? If you are, The Tea Rose is for you. This novel is an amazing work. Jennifer Donnelly has created an enthralling novel that will bring you through the life of an amazing young woman. The journey you will undertake is unbelievable. When you look back from the end, you will be amazed at all of the things you have seen and all of the places you have been.

Donnelly has created a work of epic proportions, her characters are deeply three-dimensional and you never know what is around the next corner. The combination of mystery and straight literature is very succesful. Donnelly is truly a master storyteller. This was the first work I read by this author, but I hope that she writes more.

If you enjoy historical fiction, or a good mystery, I would definitely recommend this work. I was captivated from page one, and now that I am finished, I feel like something is missing.

Enjoy this fantastic novel, I am sure you won't regret it!
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on February 28, 2003
The Tea Rose is a fascinating and intriguing tale of love, betrayal, murder, survival and revenge. The story of two people, Fiona and Joe, whose love is betrayed and damaged, yet never dissolves, is the central tale in The Tea Rose. This was a fast paced novel that has wonderfully defined characters, both the good and the evil. The story begins in the depths of poverty in the Whitechapel area in London. Yet even in these most financially impoverished streets, Jennifer Donnelly delights you with the richness of family and friends and their joy in life itself. The story takes you to the promsing streets of New York, from the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen to the dining room of Delmonico's. It extolls the importance of family, wherever family may be found and however family may be defined. The strength of the human spirit and the redeeming quality of friendship are also thoroughly explored. The Tea Rose is a story of what happens as people determinedly try to fill the missing gaps in their lives. It is about how happiness is not something that you can find, but it is something that finds you as you live your life.
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on February 14, 2003
When I asked the librarian if there were a lot of requests for this book, I was amazed to hear no. This book is definitely one of the few books I would re-read again. It's an epic ~~ a saga ~~ of star-crossed lovers and everyone in their lives. This is a book that you will find yourself savoring long after you've turned the last page and secretly, you will re-read passages again just so you can keep them around a little longer.
Fiona and Joe were residents of Whitechapel area in London ~~ an area where the workingclass lived and worked. It was full of rough labor men and their families. Though the gentry feared that area, people were relatively safe in that area till Jack the Ripper came along. Then everyone started staying home after dark. With that kind of environment, Joe and Fiona were great dreamers. Long in love with one another, they dreamt that someday they would have enough money to save up for their own shop. Only circumstances ~~ intentional and unintentional ~~ interfered with their plans and dreams. Fiona escaped London to New York to realize her dreams whereas Joe soared high then fell mighty before his dreams were realized.
Donnelly writes so passionately of the characters, keeping true to the Victorian period and its societal modes. Donnelly manages to weave a spell over the reader and keeps her/him enthralled with the characters, no matter where they are or from whatever station they are in life. These characters come alive ~~ dreamy Fiona raising her baby brother, Seamie. There is Joe struggling to make ends meet. There is Charlie, Fiona's much-adored brother who dreamed of going to America to make it rich there. There is Burton, the protaganist who owned the tea factory that the Flinnigan family were employed with ~~ and his dark eyes that haunts Fiona. There is Nicholas, a rich man's son, forced out of the family and he ended up taking care of Fiona and Seamie. There is Uncle Michael and Paddy ~~ strong stalwart men who struggled to take care of the families. There is Roddy, the policeman who watches out for his people on his beat. And so on. All of these characters come alive in this hefty book.
Donnelly is a talented author ~~ one that people should keep an eye on. She is sure to go far with her writing!
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on February 11, 2003
Wow! Finishing this book was the one thing I dreaded. The Tea Rose was a captivating, heartfelt, and engaging read. I was lost in this fascinating, atmospheric world of 19th century London, and would love to go back sometime and revisit the wonderful characters that Jennifer Donnelly created.
The Tea Rose tells the story of 17-year-old Fiona Finnegan and her beau, Joe Bristow. Fiona, a worker in a tea factory, and Joe, a coster in his family's produce business, have big dreams of opening their own tea shop one day. Saving money from every paycheck into an old cocoa tin, Fiona and Joe slowly get closer to realizing their dream. But things don't always work out they way they're planned -- the unionization of labor workers, a serial murderer on the loose, and a scheming buxom blonde play their part in destroying everything Fiona and Joe has worked for.
There is so much more to this novel, however, but I don't want to ruin the fun for readers to discover for themselves. There are many supporting characters that add complexity and texture to this story, and Jennifer Donnelly has done an exceptional job of bringing them all to life. The writing is concise and the perfect balance of dialogue and description. I loved every page, especially since there was always something new and exciting happening. The best book I've read so far this year, and most likely one that will be hard to top.
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on February 10, 2003
I would give this book 10 stars if I could. In lieu of that, I'm recommending it to everyone I know as the "must read" book of the year. Not only does this have as romantic a love story as you could ever want, but it also features an epic sweep of Victorian London and late 19th century New York, a diabolical killer, and an all-consuming plot for revenge. At the center of all of this is Fiona Finnegan, an endearing heroine who lifts herself from the slums of London to become the queen of tea merchants residing in an upscale 5th Avenue mansion.
The story telling is so intimate and compelling that I did not want to ever put this one down. Fiona captures your heart when you first meet her clutching twelve pounds, two shillings, and a dream in a battered cocoa tin. When she finds her perfect love affair shattered by another woman's wanton seduction and a vicious murder decimates her family, Fiona's staunch character is tested to its limits. A barrage of even more tragic events leads her to a heart-stopping escape to New York and more problems to overcome. In addition to Fiona, the secondary characters are so well drawn that you feel connected to them immediately. Her loving father Paddy, her mam, brothers Charlie and Seamie as well as Uncle Michael, her dear friend Nicholas, and many others will capture your imagination. But it is Fiona's love for the unforgettable Joe Bristow and her steadfast goal of destroying her father's killer that will keep you glued to the pages and relishing every delicious moment of this story.
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on January 20, 2003
This is the most entertaining book I have read in 10 years (since The Secret History by Donna Tartt). It is good old fashioned story telling with terrific plot and character development. While parts of the book may feel predictable, there are enough surprises to keep the reader from feeling smug. And while this is not literary-prize winning type writing, it is certainly well written enough to lend credibility to all of the events which take place inside. I read mostly Booker/Pulitizer Prize and NYT notable type books and was reluctant, at first, to buy this book. However, the reviews herein pushed me over the edge. I am so glad I spent the time with it. It was like a friend that greeted me on my bedside during the week or so that I had the fun of reading it. I highly recommend this book to anyone in need of a book to lose oneself in. To add one more layer of endorsement, I sent an email to this author to tell her how much I enjoyed the book. She wrote back so promptly and graciously that I shall forever be a fan.
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on January 3, 2003
This book opened my eyes. I couldn't stop reading it; when in the car, I longed to go back intoi my house; when I was sailing, my only desire was to swim back to my little desk and READ! By the way, I would like to tell everyone that attemps to read this: THIS IS NOT A TRASHY BOOK (in the best sense of the word.)
Our Story begins with two young and decent lovers, Fiona and Joe. It is so apparent that their love is ever-lasting a pure, giving the reader a heart-wrenching feeling that whatever harms them with be sorrowful. Each live poor--but hopeful--lives in the slums of London as Jack the Ripper trerrorizes the streets. There is another girl (as there always is) but that sad thing is that Millie (the girl) owns no love from him and everyone knows that. Fiona and Joe have a dream that thyey shall open a shop and donate bits of shillings every week to a tin. Such innocent love is beautiful. And Donnelly so vividly explains all.
But Millie is set on marrying Joe. So her father hires him to work in his business with him. He does not fall in love with Millie, and in fact, the only thing that results is that Fiona's and Joe's dream of owning a shop becomes closer. And their marriage becomes closer with it after they make-love. Millie is so jealous that she decides to attempt the unfathomable and in doing so, the most horrific thing in this book (HORRIFIC meaning sad). But soon Millie's father gives Joe the company on drunken night--with Millie.
And so spirals the lives of a shattered Fiona and Joe.
The rest is where I cried and szobbed yet laughed and cheered. Fiona's intelligence and utter kindness sweep away the knife pointiung at her dream. Joe's sorroful mistake lead to his humblness and ever-lasting kindness ease the reader to swiftly forgive. Read this book. I have read many and forgotten some. When I finished this, I almost cried at the knowledge that I was done.
Trust me. 5 stars...more like infinity.
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on November 15, 2002
It's said that everything old is new again and this sentiment may ring especially true for those browsing the new fall fiction titles popping up in bookstores. The big juicy Victorian novel is back. So far we've had Victorian lesbian thieves in Sarah Waters' FINGERSMITH, well-read and cunning prostitutes in Michel Faber's THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE, and now, in the latest addition to this trend, we have a rags-to-riches tale of a gentle tea merchant with revenge in her heart in Jennifer Donnelly's epic THE TEA ROSE.
Fiona Finnegan is the eldest daughter in a proud "respectable working class" family in 1888 East London. An overworked, underpaid employee at Burton Tea Factory, 18-year-old Fiona, dreams of one day opening her own tea shop with boyfriend Joe Bristow. Fiona and Joe have known each other since they were toddlers and have been combining and saving their shillings for their tea shop ever since they were old enough to earn them. According to their calculations, Fiona's dream will be realized in less than a year. There are, however, complications.
When the rumblings of unionization and strikes begin stirring at Burton Tea, Fiona steers clear from the issue but her father, Paddy, also a Burton employee, becomes mixed up with the burgeoning dock workers union... THE TEA ROSE has already been compared to Barbara Taylor Bradford's A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE. While it can be predictable at times, Ms. Donnelly's work is in a class by itself. From the slums of Whitechapel to the glittering streets of New York in the Gay '90s, readers are in for a rollicking good time with an unforgettable cast of characters.
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