Title: The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose #1)
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: May 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adult
East London, 1888 – a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger’s son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.
But Fiona’s life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan’s tea trade. But Fiona’s old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future.
“She was everything he wanted from his life, the very measure of his dreams.”
I first heard about this book in a Goodreads interview with Krista and Becca Ritchie (they’re my most favorite New Adult authors) and Krista mentioned that The Tea Rose was the first romance book she adored. That alone made me want to read it if she loved it. I had it in my TBR list for a long time, and up until I got the physical copies of the other two books made me decide that it’s time to start reading the trilogy.
Ever since reading The Bronze Horseman trilogy, I have been hooked and eager to find and read more books just like them. The ones were it spans generations, and it doesn’t just revolve in the characters’ love lives. And these books are one of the thickest that I have. They might be intimidating at first, but they are full of everything special in their pages.
This book is about a 17 year-old girl named Fiona Finnegan and she works as a tea packer in a tea factory. Together with her long-time sweetheart, Joe, their dream was to open their own shop together. But a series of unfortunate events happen with Fiona and her family, and also to Joe that turned their lives upside down and at a 360 degree rotation. The Tea Rose did not just revolved around Fiona and Joe, but to other characters as well.
Setting-wise, I adored this book! It’s set in one of my most favorite locations and time periods – Victorian London. I would always love and devour books that are set in this period. I also loved the fact that we also got to see a different side of England that usually doesn’t get that much of attention in books. What was equally more interesting was that the author had incorporated Jack the Ripper into the story! Ever since reading Stalking Jack the Ripper, I suddenly had a huge fascination with this serial killer, so when Jennifer Donnelly gave life to him in the book, it immediately caught my interest and I couldn’t put the book down anymore! I actually liked the idea that he played a huge part in the storyline of the book.
Plot-wise, it was one hell of a roller coaster ride. This book had an ongoing dilemma, and other problems just keeps piling up on top of each in very unexpected ways. The whole book wasn’t predictable, which I loved a lot, because it still kept the element of surprise especially in heated scenarios. Some parts were a little dragging, but majority of the book was a huge page turner, one you can’t put down. It’s a story that will just consume you, making you forget important things that you need to do because you want to know what happens next. Also, this book spanned for 10 years, from the time Fiona fled London to go to New York until she came back again, giving us a better glimpse of how characters had changed from the first moment they appeared until the end. The Tea Rose also tackles a lot of big issues during the 19th century, such as the UK Union Movement, gender equality, corrupt justice systems, and business tradings. All of these made a huge impact in the characters’ lives. It’s a pretty thick book, but it’s not a dull book. And if you are looking for romance, there isn’t a shortage of romantic scenes in this book. You have your star-crossed lovers here, if that’s something you like. Your heart will sigh and break a hundred times once you finish this. Consider yourselves warned. Oh, don’t forget it has a big revelation at the end!
Character-wise, all of them had flaws. It wouldn’t be an interesting read if the characters didn’t have any flaws. The majority of the book actually tackled a lot of the characters’ flaws and problems, and their way on how to solve those problems and become better persons. I actually love how the main characters were all dreamers, never backing down from the harshness of a strict society, and their struggle to achieve those dreams. My most favorite character would definitely be Fiona because of her tenacity and ingenuity. She’s a woman in a man’s world, and that didn’t stop her from achieving her dream in owning her own shop and expanding that dream into something more. It was what I admired the most about her, and I loved her for it. The story is also full of revenge and a lot of scheming and deceit involved.
Everything about this book is unforgettable, and I highly recommend it to everyone! It has lots of great ideas that will spin both your head and heart! I can’t wait to start reading the second book!