A couple of months ago I was desperate to read a long historical fiction novel that checked all the boxes: action, romance, egde-of-my-seat moments, tear-jerker. I received tons of recommendations. The Tea Rose was the first one I dived into, and I’m glad I did! It met all expectations!
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Harper Collins Ltd on May 2, 2006
Genres: Historical Fiction
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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 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. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future.
5 Reasons to Read The Tea Rose:
1. The main character, Fiona, is a complete bad-ass. She’s the perfect fictional heroine: smart, sassy, and driven. She’s quite easy to root for.
2. It has such a long, drawn-out romance! I ADORE slow-burn/pining lovers, so this book 100% checked that box for me.
3. There are so many twists and turns that make life for our characters incredibly challenging. I can’t tell you how many times I groaned aloud when something awful happened (…and a lot of awful things happen).
4. The book is long, but it was perfect for getting super invested in the story and the people in it. You cover about 10 years in the novel, so by the end of it you feel like you’ve known these characters for your entire life.
5. I’m normally not into Victorian era stories, but I REALLY liked it in this novel. I think in part because it leaves London for a spell and takes place in America, which is quite different and more interesting (to me).
I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves epic historical fiction with a strong love story! (Outlander, Gone with the Wind, The Bronze Horseman, etc)