Book Review: The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

The Tea Rose by Jennifer DonnellyThe Tea Rose: What it is about says: “Fiona Finnegan is the spirited, ambitious daughter of an Irish dock worker. She longs to break free from the squalid lanes and alleys of Whitechapel, where she has a job in a tea factory. With the love of her life, Joe Bristow, she dreams of escaping the poverty and opening her own tea shop. But one by one her dreams fall apart as her father is killed in a dock accident, Joe is seduced by another woman, and her mother is viciously murdered – a suspected victim of Jack the Ripper.

Devastated, her life in tatters, Fiona flees to New York where she sets up home with her alcoholic uncle. Slowly she builds his small grocery shop into a thriving tea house, and her new life flourishes. After years of hard work, she establishes herself as the head of her own powerful tea empire. But she cannot forget London – or Joe. Convinced that her father was murdered by his brutal employer, Fiona vows to seek revenge and ruin him once and for all. Making her way back to the streets of her impoverished childhood, Fiona must start her fight again.

The Tea Rose: What I thought

I read this flip-back book (see below) while I was on holiday on my own. At breakfast and at dinner time I would read this small book at the table and I looked forward to the meals, not just because of the delicious food, but also because of this story.

This was a long story but it never got boring. A lot happened, although sometimes it was a bit unlikely, or situations were resolved really fast so the main story could continue easily. For instance, at some point, it is handy for the story that one person is an alcoholic, but then later, it would be much nicer if he fits in with family life, so he sees the errors of his ways and gives up, just like that. Even in 1890, alcoholics could not give up the booze that easily! There are a few more points like that where I wasn’t quite convinced, but the overall story was good and interesting to follow.

Fiona is a strong woman who goes for what she wants. She has her ups and downs, and while things are sometimes really bad, other times they are really good and the overall tenet of the story is a positive one: if you have enough bad times, the good times will be extra sweet.

I loved following the adventures of Fiona. Although this book is one of a trilogy, the book has a satisfactory ending, and so I didn’t feel compelled to read the next book immediately after.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Number of pages: 800

First published: 2002 (My Dutch copy, De theeroos, 2003)

I got this: bought it as a flip back book (dwarsligger). The book was recommended to me by a lady (customer) in my local book store (I recommended The Help to her).

Genre: historical fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

13 Responses to Book Review: The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. Wendy says:

    Sounds like a great book! 🙂

  2. Mystica says:

    I liked this story very much.

  3. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader says:

    I know I’ve read this trilogy but the memory I have is that I liked the first 2 and thought the 3rd seemed like it was written by a totally different author 😦 I’m going to have to go look these up just to make sure that I know what I’m talking about, lol. My memory isn’t what it used to be!

  4. Annie says:

    Glad you liked it!

  5. I LOVED this one as well when I read it years ago.

  6. Caroline says:

    I’m glad you liked this so much as I’ve got a copy. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but this sounded so good.

  7. Melinda says:

    I have this on my TBR and I’m glad you gave it a positive review! Looking forward to reading it myself, although that won’t be too soon.

  8. susanbright says:

    I have heard a lot of good things about this book. definitely want to read!

  9. Isi says:

    I didn’t know it but it looks perfect for reading at tea time! 😀
    I will look for it, for sure. Thanks for the review!

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