Ashley Thomas's Reviews > The Tea Rose

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
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Mar 12, 12

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Well - a confession first. I read this book just after finishing three Geraldine Brooks novels, which was a HUGE mistake. Jennifer Donnelly is a good author, but by comparison with GB suffered rather badly. I did enjoy this book - it's an easy read if not a quick one, and the characters are entertaining and charming. Fiona's struggles to move out of the lower classes into a world of success and fortune are believable, and we cheer along with her when she finally manages to right the wrongs done to her. But there are distinct issues with Donnelly's prose - for example, it would be nice if she could find a way of explaining historical anachronisms without constantly sounding like a Guide to Ye Olde Englande. The constant exposition about things the reader might not understand both feels as if Donnelly's underestimating her audience and distances the reader from the story. She also includes one of my all-time pet peeves items in historical fiction - spelled-out dialect. The use of dialect in historical novels without exception makes me want to bash my head against a wall, and should in my opinion be relegated to the classics like Uncle Tom's Cabin and left well alone these days. I also wonder if this book wouldn't have been improved by being split into more than one novel - it feels like multiple novels smashed into one volume, and I think it would have been fun to have more than one book to look forward to that dealt with Fiona and her band of merry fellow-adventurers.

Overall, a fun read and a heart-warming story. Definitely worth picking up if you're a novel-obsessed Anglophile (I am), if you love tea (I do), if you're have a weird fascination with Jack the Ripper (also me), or if you like your bodices ripped a bit more decorously than they are in a Harlequin novel (I plead the 5th).
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message 1: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle Great review! I also am a huge Geraldine Brooks fan. You gave me exactly what I needed to decide if I was going to read this. It is on my list - because I liked Northern Light and now for the reasons you stated. Thanks!


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