on May 2, 2003
There is something for everyone reading The Tea Rose. There is romance, action, murder, destruction, greed, ambition and even revenge. There are great characters in this story that you will not forget easily, especially Fiona Finnegan who is the central figure with great strength and fierce ambition.
From Whitechapel in East London in 1988 to New York City in all it elegance and glory, and the a return back to East London ten years later, we see Fiona Finnegan grow from a young girl into womanhood and we root for her, for she touches our lives, and we hold her close to our hearts as she faces a mixture of disappointments, stumbling blocks and successes, meeting each the only way she knows how.......with an enduringly tough spirit.
This is the first of Jennifer Donnelly's work that I have read and may I say it was extremely pleasurable for me. I hope there will be more from Ms. Donnelly for us readers who also have enjoyed the Tea Rose to the hilt. This book deserves more than five stars. Highly recommended!!!
Heather P Marshall
on March 31, 2003
This is one of the best books I have ever read, which, from someone who reads at least four books a month, is saying a lot. From the moment I started this book, everything else had to be put on hold; I simply couldn't put it down.
Set in the late 1800's in England, this book centers around the life of Fiona Finnegan, a 17 year old woman who faces more tragedy and adversity than any person should ever have to deal with. In the beginning, we are introduced to the love of her life, Joe. The relationship these two share is a pure and beautiful love that seems destined for great things. They have plans to marry and open a store together one day, until a painful event tears them apart.
We also meet Fiona's family, whom, aside from her baby brother, are tragically taken from her. Her father is about to become the leader of a Union party strike, and as a result, the evil of one man comes to fruition. The family has little money, with everyone pitching in, and when Fiona discovers the truth about what happens to her father, she is forced to flee England for America with her little brother.
The relationship between Joe and Fiona was one string that tugged me through the entire book, as well as the determination and tenacity of Fiona. The friendships and relationships Fiona developed after leaving London were amazing. She had such an impact on every life that she touched, the reader included.
Fiona takes herself from rags to riches, opening a chain of highly succesful shops. At the same time in London, Joe does the same. It is amazing as a reader to watch these two live their parallel lives, unaware of the longing they each share for one another. Of equal importance is other relationships Fiona has with men, all of which prove her love for Joe is real as is his for her.
There are so many parallel sub plots running through out this book -- too many to mention, too much that could be given away. From beginning to end, this book was one of my most satisfying reads ever. I thought I would be sad to see this book end, but it was tied up so beautifully that it felt complete.
on March 30, 2003
In the tradition of other historical sagas like
As the Crow Flies by Jeffrey Archer and A Woman of
Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Ms. Donnelly offers
her readers a wonderful book set in England and the United
States in the late 19th century. This novel is filled with
wonderful characters and interesting events. It is an
excellent read for those who enjoy old fashioned historical
Rather than tell you the details of the book, I will highly recommend that you to rush to your bookstore, buy this book (you'll want to own this book for a reread) and settle down for one of those never to be forgotten books. I only wish I could have given this book more than five stars. And the best part is that in a recent message Ms. Donnelly informs her readers that she is in the process of writing a sequel to this grand tale.
Thank you Ms. Donnelly. I never expected in my lifetime to enjoy any book as much as I did titles like Gone With the Wind and The Thorn Birds in addition to the titles I mentioned above. You finally did it and I can't wait to read everything you write in the future. With that in mind, I'm off to buy A Northern Light today.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.