by Jennifer Donnelly

March 2004
ISBN: 0-312-99356-0
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

Have you ever browsed the book racks, not really looking for anything in particular, when a book cover catches your eye? That happened to me recently, and after reading the back cover, decided to give The Tea Rose a try. I am glad that I did.

Reminiscent of Barbara Taylor Bradford, The Tea Rose tells the story of Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow, hard-working residents of Londonís Whitechapel district in 1888. Fiona and Joe are sweethearts, and are working hard to save money for their dream - a shop of their own. Fiona works at a tea packing factory and Joe is a costermonger, an open air grocer, with a gift for sales and a knack for knowing what the customers want. He is frustrated in his efforts to expand the family business because his father will not listen to his ideas. His beloved Fiona listens, and together they dream of a future filled with love and success.

Fiona has received an invaluable education at the tea factory. She knows first hand about productivity and work ethic, and sees the harsh underbelly of the Industrial Age, when owners made profits on the backs of their hard-working employees. She also has an uncanny knowledge of tea and the ability to identify the various varieties by smell alone. She dreams of owning her own shop where she can put her knowledge to good use.

The Tea Rose takes these humble beginnings, and conveys the reader on a voyage of triumph, tragedy and sacrifice. In a saga worthy of Delderfield, we watch as Fiona and Joe make their way to prosperity. With the spectre of Jack the Ripper causing panic in the streets, other wicked men do evil deeds in the name of greed. Fiona and Joe must rise above this and survive to continue their journey.

I had a very difficult time putting this book down. It seemed as though there was something new to capture my attention whenever I turned the page. Author Jennifer Donnelly created an amazing cast of characters who shape and mold The Tea Rose into a stunning book. And, by the way, the cover is gorgeous!

Reviewed in March 2004 by Paula.

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