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The Tea Rose

(The Tea Rose #1)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  33,925 ratings  ·  3,067 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 557 pages
Published December 10th 2007 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 11th 2002)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  33,925 ratings  ·  3,067 reviews

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Wendy Darling
3.5 stars. This book is not at all what I expected! I thought it was historical fiction, but there's too much crazy melodrama for it to be that. Then I thought it was a historical romance, but it's far too detailed and well done for that, too. So the book is either extremely campy historical fiction or really, really excellent historical romance. But either way, it's loads and loads of fun.

A few things you should know about me that factor into why I enjoyed this book so much:

* I am picky about m
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: past-favourites
A wonderful book so vividly described one felt you were there among the many heartwarming and equally evil characters. Set in the 1800’s it takes you on an extraordinary journey you never want to end. Quite simply brilliant.
Allison (The Allure of Books)
This book has faults. The story was pretty far fetched at times-but I suppose in kind of an endearing "fairy tale" way (which is funny, since a great deal of the book is extremely horrible and depressing), and the main character didn't really have any flaws.

Well, I take that back. Fiona, the main character, was in love with Joe. That is a fault, in my eyes. They grew up together, were in love, and had big plans to get rich together. Well, through a horrible chain of events, they ended up on oppo
This book was once recommended to me by an old Goodreads friend when I first started on this site. I never got around to reading it and to my surprise it "magically" appeared as a free monthly download on Audible. Was I ever excited!

This was a brilliant epic family saga! 5 GLOWING stars!! It has everything I enjoy in my Historical Fiction plus it is my favourite time period! It's a long book (over 500 pages) and I listened to it. I literally could not stop listening it was that good. The story b
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once I got over da feckin' Oirish accent t'ing, I really got into this one. What an epic tale. I absolutely adored Fiona, her spirit, her independence, her outspoken nature, her love of her family.

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.

A tragic incident has h
Sep 25, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One I Actually Like
I had a lot of hope for this after reading Donnelly's "A Northen Light" (which I really liked) and after learning that "A Tea Rose" was set in London at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders (a very intriguing setting, I thought). But I'm sorry to say, I was terribly disappointed.

The characters are all extremely stale. Good-hearted and good-looking people who have unfortunately been born into the working class. There are no flaws to make them human. Nothing I could relate with. Plus, the bigge
The Tea Rose was a really good book, and I'm so glad I persevered past the absolutely devastating first 200-300-odd pages. It's one of those books that starts off with everything going so well that you know it's not going to last long. I had a sense of foreboding, but the amount of tragedy and pain was really too much. It just kept coming in wave after wave. It wasn't just a bit dark or a bit tragic. It was crushing, suffocating loss and pain. That's going to stick with me for a while. I'm reall ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Tea Rose
Jennifer Donnelly

“We're not punished for our sins, lad. We're punished by them.”

“God didn't have to punish him; he'd created his own hell. By himself and for himself.”

I don’t really know why I took so long to pick this book up. I guess I felt intimidated by its size. Also, having devoured “A Northern Light” I was afraid this one wouldn’t be equally good. Well, I can honestly say that I was captivated by its beautiful storyline. So don’t let the number of pages put you off.

The Tea Ro
Helene Jeppesen
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book because it is a great story. Fiona, our main character, goes through so much struggle and so many changes, and because she's such a lovely character you can't help but cheer for her. She's stubborn, loyal and very intelligent and I quickly fell in love with her. This goes for most of the characters in this book: They were so easy to fall in love with while other characters were so easy to hate.
I do think that this book has its flaws. It's very predictable and and contain
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Although The Tea Rose is not the worst book I've read, it's pretty terrible. With a good 200 pages of drivel, it raises the question, how did this slip past the editor?

The other 350 pages drift somewhere along a mediocre plot-line, ridiculous dialogue and predictable, fairytale-like situations. Every time a character had a setback in life it was magically resolved by some farfetched coincidence. The book was littered with long descriptions that add very little to the story. On page 13, Donnelly
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

Please be aware, it’s a POTENTIAL SPOILER!!


This is not typical historical romance I usually read but I found somewhere a few readers discuss about this book which made me really interested and give this book a chance and I won't regret any single minutes I spent for this 761 pages book:)

This book divided by three part and here what our heroine, 17yo Fiona's 5yo little brother said when someone ask her what happened with her,

“Our mam’s dead,” he’d said plainly. “She was stabbed by a
This one of my all time favorites!! It is a sweeping saga, set between the US, Ireland, and England. It's fabulous. If you love historical epics, do yourself a favor and read it now! It's out in paperback now. A warning, it's huge!! ...more
Louise Wilson
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
East London 1888 is a place where in its shadows thieves, whores and dreamers mingle.

Fiona Finnegan works in a tea factory. She hopes to own her own shop one day along with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow. Fiona &Joe struggle, save and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

Then Fiona's life is shattered when a brutal man takes nearly everything and everyone she holds dear. Fearing for her life she flees London and goes to New York. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest easily and she has to return to Lo
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aa-ce
I stumbled across The Tea Rose when looking for a book with Winter in the title and found The Winter Rose. Since that was part of a trilogy, I figured I'd skip the 'winter' challenge and try the first in the series - historical novel, lots of good reviews, sounded like fun.

Mostly, it was a pretty good read. Vivacious, irrepressible teen from a desperately poor family in Jack the Ripper's Whitechapel, loves, loses, suffers, faces murders, deaths, harrowing experiences, and heartbreak. Eventually
Farting through silk dresses. That's what the uncle of the heroine says she'll be doing if she marries the rich man. Isn't that a great expression? And sadly, I've got nowhere to use it. Not unless I want even more bewildered looks than usual. This novel has been out for a decade now, and the fact that it's the choice of the History Fictionistas series read right now, speaks to its sticking power. And the centre of it is Fiona Finnegan, a feisty female fond of flavorful tea and fighting for fami ...more
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Countess of Monte-Christo…
Revenge is sweet. And the good girl does not finish last!
The magic of the story is in the telling. This long long long book finishes too soon, that's a good test; and it stays with you for a while, another good test; and characters you know like you met them, some you love to love, and some you love to hate, another good test; and the setting, Dickens!
I read this book right after Rita died, and, well, it made me love, and miss, her even more: I wanted to give it to her,
Cam *tactile seeker*


One of the most disappointing books I've ever read.

I chose it among hundreds at the bookstore, immediately captivated by its beautiful cover and interesting blurb and ended up cursing at every single character repeatedly. They're all dull, incredibly stupid, even more incredibly childish and whiny.
It's never their fault, but all their misfortunes always depend on someone else, on something else. They don't fight for their lives, they use other people in order to achieve their goals. I
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
When I first started reading this book, I thought "whew...over 500 pages. What kind of story are they trying to tell me? Is it going to be stuffed with description upon description of everything the main charactors come in contact with?" After finishing it, I could have read another 100 pages of the lives of Fiona and Joe. It was a book of second chances and missed opportunities. As well as a "I didn't see that coming and a yup that's what I figured" Loved it!

Favorite quote...."We're not punishe
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Tea Rose deserves an eloquently written review but honestly I don't think I'm able to write one worthy of it. It was one of the best books I've ever read and listened to and it will be an all time favorite of mine. The characters were simply fabulous and I felt as though I was actually part of the story— the author's writing was so compelling and real. It is a very long book yet I didn't want it to end. Thankfully there are two more equally long books in the series. I highly recommend this o ...more
Doug Bradshaw
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Loved the history, mystery, romance, murder, and family connections.

Loved this book...the characters are unforgettable....Fiona Finnegan comes from a poor family and works in the tea factory just like the rest of her family. Circumstances cause her to leave London and she becomes a "tea baron" - filled with history, love, importance of family, and a strong female heroine.

The sequel, THE WINTER ROSE, is just as unforgettable...the family legacy continues in this book.
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

Excellent story that was engaging from the beginning and held your interest all the way through.
Favorite Quotes: We're not punished for our sins, lad. We're punished by them.

First Sentence: Polly Nichols, a Whitechapel whore, was profoundly grateful to gin.
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 very strong stars! As I listened to the audiobook on Overdrive of The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, I knew I had to make a conscious commitment to this book when I learned that it ran for twenty eight hours and thirty-one minutes. As I started listening, I was immediately drawn into this gripping and heart wrenching historical fiction family saga. It was brilliantly read by Jill Tanner. Her voice and accents were authentic and captivating. The characters in The Tea Rose were engaging, compl ...more
Fiona Finnegan is bright, outspoken and has big dreams. She is also one of the working poor in the part of London called ironically called Whitecastle. There is nothing white or royal about it.Life is not for the faint of heart in this and many other sections of 1888 London.
But Fiona and her childhood sweetheart,Joe Bristow have big plans. They are going to have their own shop.They religiously squirrel little bits of money away against the day when they can break out of poverty into better liv
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

This is going to be an interesting review. But that is entirely fitting since this was an interesting book. I went back and forth on the rating of this as well. It's truly not good enough for more than a 3 star rating and yet, in the end, I sped through it and loved it. This also might end up being a tad bit more spoilery than I usually try to be; I honestly couldn't help it. This was part daytime soap-opera distilled into book form, part historical fic
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An absolutely lovely story. Broken up into three parts Jennifer Donnelly takes you on a journey that will captivate you and have you falling in love with Fiona Finnegan from the get go.

On this journey there will be joy and sadness, laughter and tears, love and loss.

Fiona is at the heart of this story. A lass that has strength beyond expectancy, beauty from within and a heart that knows no bound. I simply adored her.

And the romance. Fiona's heart was stolen at a very young age by Joe Bristow. It
Amy Bruno
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book! The Tea Rose is a fabulous story of an amazing, ambitious girl, Fiona, from the slums of Whitechaple who dreams of a life without poverty and a boy named Joe. Fiona and Joe grew up with each other and are very much in love. Their relationship changes when Joe moves to a better job and then Fiona loses her family tragically and escapes to New York taking her 5-year-old brother, Seamie, with her. The story then follows Fiona’s life and struggles in New York and her ...more
Nov 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a wonderful tale, I simply could not put it down. A tale of two star crossed lovers (they came SO CLOSE to finding each other time after time after time I wanted to scream!), a lovely glimpse of Victorian England and New York City. Many memorable characters, heartbreak and laughter and of course a truly evil villain waiting for the good guys to vanquish, and a surprise return from the dead at the end. Can't wait to read the sequel now.

My only complaints are just a few too many fam
4.5 stars. An entrancing read/listen. Beautifully written, absolutely compelling story. Even when it was a little heavy on the melodrama, I could not stop listening. I spent lots of extra time in my car listening, after I'd arrived wherever I was driving to! The reader, Jill Tanner, was fabulous, immersing me in the sounds, sights and life of London's Whitechapel district. The story has the most amazing, rich period atmosphere, it was so easy to get lost in it.

Lots of wonderful characters, most
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Jennifer Donnelly is the author of thirteen novels - Poisoned, Stepsister, Lost in a Book, These Shallow Graves, Sea Spell, Dark Tide, Rogue Wave, Deep Blue, Revolution, A Northern Light, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose - and Humble Pie, a picture book for children. She is a co-author of Fatal Throne, which explores the lives of King Henry VIII's six wives, for which she wrote the ...more

Other books in the series

The Tea Rose (3 books)
  • The Winter Rose (The Tea Rose, #2)
  • The Wild Rose (The Tea Rose, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Get in the mood with our list of the top 100 romances of all time. We narrowed the field by limiting our results to books aimed at...
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“We're not punished for our sins, lad. We're punished by them.” 88 likes
“She was his soulmate, as much a part of him as the very flesh and bone that made him. She was with him, in him, in everything he did. She was everything he wanted from his life, the very measure of his dreams.” 52 likes
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