The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

Tea RoseFiction — print. Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007. Print. 545 pgs. Purchased.

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.

My first thought when I finished The Tea Rose was “Why? Why did I leave this languishing on my bookshelf for so long?” It’s good, really good.

The characters are believable, and learning about their lives was like hovering over their shoulders and watching them go about there lives. Fiona is a very strong character — beautiful, intelligent, and exceedingly kind — but the heroine in The Tea Rose is appealing because you get to see her flaws. She’s not perfect; she never claims to be. Every character seems real, except for Joe’s mistake of a wife, Millie, and setting the story amidst the time of Jack the Ripper made it even more interesting.

The only thing I didn’t like was mostly part three, especially the ending. It seemed poorly put together, a little rushed. I found myself rereading words, sentences, paragraphs because I was just bored. A great lead up; a poor execution for an ending. And Fiona’s success is a little unbelievable by the time you reach the third section — a poor girl from the largely impoverished Whitechapel area winds up becoming one of the richest people in New York — and some of the details of how she does it are lacking.

Still, The Tea Rose is filled with beautiful language, detailed descriptions, and tear jerking scenes, and definitely worth its size. The first book in the trilogy, I’m planning on reading The Winter Rose very soon.

Others’ Thoughts:


Sunday Salon: Challenges

Happy Mother’s Day! This morning I made breakfast in bed for my mother, and then she and my brother are going to spend the day at a college fair. She really enjoys college shopping, but I’m just glad I’m done and I don’t have to go.

While they’re gone, my dad and I are going to ride bikes down to the library and pick up some books. I’m hoping to entice my non-reader of a father to pick something up. When I told him about The Handmaid’s Tale, he sounded really interested and is planning on starting it on Monday, so that may be a step in the right direction. I really would like to get him reading more since he’s now retired and has all this free time.

Progress on my reading lists for all the challenges I signed up for seemed to stall at the end of April and the beginning of May, although I did finish the War Through the Generations Challenge. I just can’t seem to finish Everything Is Illuminated for Dewey’s Books and Emma — the novel by Jane Austen, not the manga of the same name — for the Classics Challenge.

  • 1% Well-Read: Six out of ten completed.
  • 9 For 09: Four out of nine completed.
  • A to Z Challenge: Forty-eight out of fifty-two completed. {I’ve finished the alphabet for book titles, and only have J, N, Q, and X remaining for authors.}
  • Chunkster Challenge
  • Classics Challenge: Zero out of four.
  • Dewey’s Books: Two out of six completed.
  • Diversity Rocks!
  • Read Your Own Name
  • Read Your Own Books
  • Scott Westerfeld: Zero out of two.
  • Spring Reading Thing: Five out of eight completed.
  • To-Be-Read: Three out of original twelve completed. Four out of alternative twelve completed.
  • War Through the Generations
  • What’s in a Name?

I clearly need to get busy on the Classics Challenge and the Scott Westerfeld Mini-Challenge. I haven’t read a single book for either of those challenges!

Anyways, have a wonderful Sunday and Mother’s Day for all you moms out there! I have three more AP exams this week and then things should mellow out as I move onto Senior Skip Day and a classic film study in my English class.

The Sunday Salon:

The Sunday The Sunday Salon encourages bloggers to get together –at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones– every Sunday and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Salon participants are encouraged to blog about their time spent reading, pages read, information about current reading, discuss a reaction to a book, state what they plan to read the following week, or make suggestions for a group read.