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on May 25, 2017
This book deserved to be read. And to be made into a movie! With its 700+ pages long and all the details.. oh so much detail (all essentials too, definitely not fillers), the town, the situations, the every moves of every one. It got you invested in the story. How devastating the circumstances. The murders. The union. The ambition. The business. You grow with them, with the characters. I had a heavy chest reading more than half of the book. But it was so worth it at the end. Though I wanted to strangle some characters for meddling. Some for their decisions. But the sweet part of the story, when it was sweet, it got you. It grips and never loosen. The chase that got your heart pounding. The mystery. The cruelty of poverty, the selfishness... So much has happened in one book. I would give it a thousand times 5 stars if I could. Highly recommend.
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on December 11, 2016
This story starts out in a poor section of London in 1888 where hard working parents could barely feed their families or put a roof over their heads. It is a very grim existence. But 17 year old Fiona Finnegan and her childhood sweetheart, Joe Bristow, have a dream. They are working hard and saving every penny they can, to someday get married and own their own shop.

Then one thing after another goes wrong. First, Joe's boss's daughter sets her sights on Joe, who only had eyes for Fiona. But a devious plan and a bottle of whisky proves to be too much for the young man to resist. Sadly, Fiona and Joe's future plans are dashed forever. Then, several tragedies occur which leave Fiona and her little brother orphans. With reason to believe her life is in danger, Fiona and her young brother board a ship and flee to America.

The saga continues, with Fiona in America and Joe in England. The book is very long, but if the reader can get through the first hundred pages, it's a literary journey well worth taking. The characters are well developed, and the book is filled with interesting details pertaining to that period of time. It's a good old fashioned historical fiction that reminded me of books I read many years ago. I enthusiastically give it four stars.
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on June 11, 2015
An absolutely wonderful family saga with a strong female as the protagonist.

The Tea Rose is book one in a truly fascinating historical saga. The Tea Rose centres around Fiona Finnigan who lives in the East End of London around 1888 (during the time of Jack the Ripper). Fiona's father is a hardworking dock worker who is well respected by his peers. When he becomes involved in organizing a union, he is murdered for his troubles. The Finnigan family now in greater hardship, falls apart. Fiona flees to New York where she is determined to destroy the man responsible for her fathers death and destruction of her family...Fiona finally returns to London, stronger, wealthy and on her way to revenge her fathers murder. We meet many memorable characters in this book including Fiona's true love, Joe Bristow a costmonger in the markets of London's East End.
This is truly a wonderful read and the first in a three book Saga.
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on December 29, 2015
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Donnelly is an author that I've never read before, but she will easily become a new favorite of mine. This book was beautifully done. I loved how the author stuck to the accents each character had, adjusting her writing to illustrate those. This is an author who writes delicious sentences and descriptions, and this book is one I enjoyed falling into.

I also loved the story, although it was often so heartbreaking that I couldn't help but feel sorry for Fiona. She lived a tough life. Growing up poor and eventually left to her own devices because of tragedy after tragedy, Fiona still manages to make something of herself and to reach her dreams. The author used Jack the Ripper as a way to move the plot forward and took creative liberties to tie him into her story. I loved this part of the book. Jack intrigues me, and as a villain he is most definitely a scary one. While the story was high on drama, I never felt like any of it was too wildly unbelievable. Each tragedy and success that Fiona experienced seemed plausible, although I often wished for a little more happiness for her. In the end, the story does work out, although there are many hardships on the way.

The characters in this novel were all well done. My favorite was probably Nick, a man Fiona encounters on her way to New York who becomes a rock for her throughout the beginning of her new life there. Nick is often funny and cares about Fiona to a degree that almost no one else in the book does. He supports her in all endeavors that she undertakes, and who doesn't want a best friend like that? Michael, Fiona's uncle, was an interesting character, often funny because of his developing paternal feelings toward Fiona. Although many of Fiona's family is lost early in the book, those characters are also given a certain livelihood that sets them apart, a testament to the skills of development on Donnelly's part.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It's sizable but quite worth it. There's enough story to keep the reader interested, and it's so beautifully done that it's a world readers won't want to leave.
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on May 18, 2017
I loved this book! It was completely captivating, filled with adventure, drama, romance, and information regarding travel and tea. I am looking forward to reading more from this author! I would highly recommend this book! ❤️😄👍
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VINE VOICEon July 12, 2011
NOTE: The Tea Rose is the first book in the Rose Trilogy. Having read all three of the books, I wrote my review of the entire series and included it as one review for the series.

Don't take this the wrong way, but the books in the Rose Trilogy reminded me of the Danielle Steel books I used to devour when I was 14-years old ... and I mean that in the very best way!!

I used to love Danielle Steel's books (though I've "outgrown" them after being exposed to a "better" class of books) because they featured heroines who experienced all these ups and downs but who eventually triumphed over difficulties to have amazing lives. Plus they also had complicated and often tragic love lives. The Rose Trilogy has all these same elements ... except with better writing and historical detail!!

The Rose Trilogy focuses on the Finnegan family--a close-knit family from the hardscrabble section of London known as Whitechapel. Family members include: family patriarch Paddy, whose leadership in the nascent union movement leads to tragedy; his wife Kate, who struggles to keep the family together despite multiple difficulties; Fiona, the oldest daughter, who is in love with the boy down the street; Charlie, the oldest son, who contributes what he can to family finances, even when that means walking on the edge of what is legal; and Seamus, the youngest son, who is just 5 years old in the first book but is featured front and center in the final book of the series.

We first meet the Finnegans in The Tea Rose. It is the 1880s in East London, and a murderer named Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the area. (Donnelly even goes so far as to unmask Jack's "true" identity in the book.) The Tea Rose of the title refers to Fiona Finnegan, the feisty daughter who is in love with a coster (veggie salesman) named Joe Bristow. They are saving every bit of their meager wages to open up a shop of their own. However, tragedy hits the family and Joe betrays Fiona in the worst way possible--leaving Fiona and Seamus in desperate straits. Fleeing to America, Fiona struggles to survive in New York City, where she vows revenge on the man who ruined her family.

The opening book sets the tone for the entire trilogy: star-crossed lovers; continual setbacks and obstacles; rich historical detail (Donnelly isn't afraid to incorporate real-life historical figures such as George Mallory, Jack the Ripper and Lawrence of Arabia into her books), and a plot that keeps you wondering what will befall her beleaguered characters next. (Some pretty hot and heavy sex scenes are sprinkled throughout too!) Although there is a fair amount of coincidence that strains the limits of believability, just forget all that and enjoy the ride.

The second book, The Winter Rose, has a new "rose" as its center--Dr. India Selwyn-Jones, an idealistic young doctor who dreams of opening a clinic for women and children in poverty-stricken Whitechapel. Just like Fiona in the first book, India must deal with an evil man set on ruining her life while struggling with her attraction to a criminal named Sid Malone. The book moves from London to Africa and also introduces readers to Seamus as a young man. Fiona makes periodic appearances but isn't the primary focus of the book. Although it sounds like the book doesn't focus as much on the Finnegan family, I'll leave you to discover why that isn't true!

The third and final book, The Wild Rose, features Willa Alden, the great love of Seamus Finnegan's life, as its rose. "Wild" is the right word to describe Willa, who readers first meet in The Winter Rose. She is a fearless mountaineer who defies expectations of what women can and should do, despite a significant handicap after an accident on Mt. Kilimanjaro (which takes place in the second book). Like the other two books, this book starts in London before moving the action to Arabia during World War I.

Each book is a chunkster (all of them are 500+ pages) and requires a fairly decent time commitment, but they are the type of chunksters that move along at a steady clip. My biggest criticism is the amount of coincidence that propels the plots, but don't let that stop you from reading the books. This was historical fiction at its best: fast-paced, far-ranging and drama-filled. I enjoyed the series immensely, and thank Jill at Rhapsody in Books for turning me on to this series. I would have never picked these books up on my own as historical fiction isn't my preferred genre and the staid covers don't give you a full sense of all the action, drama and romance that pack the pages inside. Highly recommended!
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on May 15, 2007
Star crossed romances are my favorite genre of books. The Tea Rose more than satisfied my hunger for it!

After reading this book, I found myself still lingering over the lives of Fee, Joe, and their families, wondering, how would their lives unfold after the pages of The Tea Rose stopped turning? Well, after a little research, I found out that there is a SEQUEL to the is WONDERFUL novel! It is called The Winter Rose. I finished it a couple of months ago, and WOW. I have not been able to pick up a book since; literally. I am still engrossed! Unfortunately, this book is not available in the U.S. yet, but it IS available in the U.K. I purchased a copy at Amazon.UK. It is worth it. Seriously!

One more tid-bit of information: I was fortunate enough for Jennifer Donnelly to respond to an email I sent her. I asked if there would be a third installment, and the answer was...YES! She said it would be a year or so, but there will be a third! Yay!
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on September 25, 2015
Stunning Narrative, Beautiful Characters
I was surprised to get sucked into a book with such ferocity and passion. It happens very infrequently.
Mrs Donnelly has masterfully recreated the East London scene of the late 19th century before our eyes and has given us a character to love, despair, worry and cheer about. Fiona Finnegan's family is poor and always on the verge of helplessness but their decency and courage touches you in the deepest way. She goes through a lot and transitions from a young dreamful girl to a mature fearless woman with a world to take over. Her tough journey is during the time of infamous Jack the Ripper, and suspense is ubiquitous throughout the plot.
Romantic elements are woven beautiful in the story and the reader is well compensated at the end.
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on August 18, 2013
For a story with as many plot twists and turns as Jennifer Donnelly's THE TEA ROSE, it is surprising that it takes so long to start the engine of the story. But I'll get to that in a moment.

THE TEA ROSE is a compelling, well-written novel. It is such a page-turner (once the story gets going), that it enthralled me, keeping me up until 4 am! Ms Donnelly has created memorable protagonists in Joe and Fiona. She has also made her many minor characters vivid and believable. The descriptions are historically grounded and add texture to the novel. It was a pleasure to immerse oneself in the details of Whitechapel, of Fiona's job at the tea factory, of her mother cooking and doing the laundry.

Where I felt the book was weak was at the beginning. The prologue made little sense, because it is an example of a hook that doesn't hook. Or of a hook that isn't relevant. In the Prologue we meet Polly, a Whitechapel whore, who meets a nasty end. After that, we switch to Chapter One, and meet Fiona in her job at the tea factory. The significance of what happened to Polly doesn't become apparent until well into Chapter One, and then it didn't resonate because Polly is a complete stranger to Fiona and her family.

The novel actually begins on page 129, 18% of the way into the story, with the death of Fiona's father. To me, that is the actual hook, because everything in the story grows from that event. All the details of Fiona's job, her family, her relationship with Joe, her visit to the West End to visit Joe, all of these things could have been slipped into the narrative afterwards to create the world that vanished when Fiona's da died. Being forced to wade through nine chapters of detail, even thought the details was beautifully rendered, made the beginning much less strong than it should have been. It's as if we saw the scaffolding of how Ms. Donnelly wrote her way into the story, but that scaffolding hadn't been removed. Given that this book was published under the imprint of St. Martin's Griffin and not self-published, it's surprising that a stronger editorial hand wasn't employed. 3.5 stars.
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on June 1, 2013
I did enjoy this book, primarily because the story kept moving. I have given it a five star rating, not because the writing is so outstanding, but because there is merit and a forward movement of the story. I will confess, that there are some parts of the story, which, at the time I read them seemed a bit far-fetched, but overall, it worked with the storyline and characters.

No doubt this book is a bit of an epic. The number of pages is probably a dead give away on that score. But, to tell the entire story, it needs to be. I wll say, that when I finished the book, a few days ago, I was disappointed to see it end. I want to know what the next story is for Fiona and Joe.

This book has it all. There is murder, in all its gore and horror. In fact the first chapter or so, does not really lead you to what the story is truly about. However, it is important to set the scene and give you that certain sense of dread for what the people of Whitechapel were experiencing at the time London was haunted by Jack the Ripper. But, Jack the Ripper, though a theme to this book, which has some level of import is not the real story. This is really a family story and a love story. It is a story of love for the ages. Joe and Fiona have grown up together in a poor part of London. But, they have dreams -- big dreams. Dreams that are wider than their experience, but they also have love. We meet them when they are planning and saving for a time when they will open a store and make it the finest London has ever seen. Of course, those plans also call for them to be married.

But, Joe is offered the great opportunity to work for one of the largest buyers and sellers of produce in London. He takes that job. While he propers and is pursued by the boss' daughter, Millie Petersen, Fiona's life takes a turn for the worse and all that is dear to her begins to disappear. That would include Joe, for one night, after consuming too much alcohol at a party at the Petersen's home, Millie entices Jack to her bed. After that one night a baby is on the way, and Joe is forced to marry Millie.

Fiona is in despair. As her life spins out of control, she suddenly finds herself in the killing sights of her father's former boss. She grabs her young brother, Seamus, and they escape aboard a White Star ship for America. Upon landing in New York, Fiona finds not all is well with her uncle.

With her spirit and drive she works to pick him up and recover his business. Her hard work pays off. As time passes things change for Joe and Fiona, but they always "miss" each other. Fiona eventually marries, in New York and succeeds at her dreams, but with someone else by her side. Eventually her husband dies, and Fiona finds herself back in London to seek the revenge on her father's employer which she has planned for nearly her entire adult life. With the help of good lawyers and Joe, Fiona succeeds, but nearly losses her life and others dear to her in the process.

When she learns Joe is now a free and successful man, their love is rekindled. But, it is not always an easy road to attain the dreams and happiness born in youth.
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