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The Tea Rose: A Novel (The Tea Rose Series) Paperback – December 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Donnelly indulges in delightfully straightforward storytelling in this comfortably overstuffed novel. In 1880s London, the squalid Thames-side neighborhood of Whitechapel is home to Fiona Finnegan, spunky daughter of Paddy Finnegan. Both are employed by unscrupulous tea merchant William Burton, but Fiona is saving to start a shop with her love, Joe Bristow. Just as her future seems assured, a string of tragedies toppledher hopes. Joe is tricked into marriage to another woman, Burton has Paddy killed for supporting a labor union, Fionas mother is murdered by Jack the Ripper and Fionas distraught brother is found dead in the Thames. Fiona had been attempting to get compensation from Burton for her fathers death, but when she overhears his boasts of killing Paddy, she must flee for her life with her sole remaining brother, five-year-old Seamie. She rushes to a seaport, but cannot get passage until the wealthy dandy Nicholas Soames offers it, pretending she is his wife. The scene switches to New York City of the Gay 90s, to the glitter of Delmonicos, the elegance of Gramercy Park and the crowded tenements of downtown. Fiona lodges with her alcoholic Uncle Michael and saves both him and his grocery on her way to making her fortune in the tea industry. But she never forgets her familys fate, and when she can, she returns to England to revenge herself on Burton. Though Donnellys indomitable heroine steps out of period character from time to time¢her easy acceptance of Soamess homosexuality is particularly unlikely¢the novels lively plotting, big cast of warmly drawn characters and long-deferred romantic denouement make this a ripping yarn. In the final dramatic settling of scores, Donnelly even ventures to unmask Jack the Ripper.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1888, Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow hoard shillings and pennies so that they can marry and open a shop. But Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of London's East End, and poverty threatens from the shadows. Setting the story in motion is the murder of Fiona's father, a dock worker whose union activities angered his tea-company boss. Fiona and her younger brother must flee to New York City to avoid their own murders. Through hard work and luck, Fiona and her beloved Joe prosper on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Misunderstandings and mistakes keep them apart as they build separate lives and incredible fortunes. Children's book writer Donnelly effortlessly takes her narrative through slums and high society while intertwining a number of subplots without tangling them. Both major and minor characters capture and hold interest and sympathy. Although the number of Fiona and Joe's near encounters stretches the imagination, readers will forgive the tease once the lovers' reunion and Fiona's revenge for her father's death converge in an action-packed ending. Public library readers will relish this rags-to-riches romance. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Tea Rose Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312378025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312378028
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (528 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write books for tweens, teens, young adults and not-so-young adults - though not all at once. My newest book, "Rogue Wave," is the second volume in the epic Waterfire Saga, published by Disney-Hyperion.

Check out all the details below - and drop me a line sometime! My Twitter info is nearby ...

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

204 of 213 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on February 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Heather Negahdar on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Klein on February 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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74 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Eliza Bennet VINE VOICE on September 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After a promising beginning, author Jennifer Donnelly slowly moves this saga into the land of soap opera. The first portion, introducing characters and setting, are very well done. The hard-scrabble lives of the underprivileged in London in the 1880's come alive. I didn't even mind the Jack the Ripper plot, until the author stretches believability by bringing that subplot into the limelight. Part Two of the book begins a section that should be labeled "Part Too" because everything is too overdone. Fiona is too lucky, too ambitious, too beautiful. There are too many coincidences. Part Three is also too much. Fiona invents iced tea. Her sexless marriage is a "pure" love. Fiona invents tea bags. Really. Then the author descends into quintessential soap opera land, pitting Fiona against pure evil. The denouement of the love story between Joe and Fiona is overshadowed by the extreme melodrama. Donnelly has a pleasant writing style that cannot overcome the predictable. She allows action to overtake characterization. When all 544 pages were finished, I was left feeling like the time invested had paid no dividends.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By materialgirl-xo on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
After reading the rave reviews about the Tea Rose, I purchased this book and I must say that it really didn't live up to my expectations (and they weren't even that high to begin with).

Now I realize I will receive quite a bit of flack for an unfavourable review of such a popular book but nevertheless, I am writing this because I would like to save others the time and money that they need not waste on this widely popular novel that reads much like my mother's tired old soap operas.

For the record I found Donnelly's prose to be skillful, vivid, and descriptive but I suppose the subject matter just did not interest me as I found the story painfully predictable. More specifically, I found the storyline concerning the romance between the protagonist and her 'significant other' just too familiar, paralleling plots that can easily be found in any soap opera. What ends up happening to Fiona and Joe (the main characters) was just way too predictable for my liking. Trust me on this one... if you've watched soap operas or even caught a glimpse of Melrose Place in the 90's, the story will be all too predictable. To make it worse I just found the heroine not all that captivating and the story all too unoriginal. I'm all for overcoming hardships but I literally found myself accurately guessing what would happen next and that's just no fun. Really it wasn't rocket science to guess what would happen next. A heroine longs for the day she gets to marry her handsome, witty, and rugged fiance. Then, another female character who is richer, prettier, blonder, and has larger bosoms than our heroine comes along........ well really, its not rocket science what her purpose is in the story or what the author will build up to.
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