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The Tea Rose - Book Review and a GIVEAWAY {Sticky Post, scroll down}

{This is a sticky post. It'll stay up on top until April 1st. For newer entries, scroll down}

The Tea Rose
Author : Jennifer Donnelly
Paperback: 592 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition (December 10, 2007)
Book Description
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.
A sweeping saga of enterprise, sacrifice, romance and glory – ‘The Tea Rose’ has made me an ardent admirer of Jennifer Donnelly’s. The characters, the storytelling, the atmosphere – everything is beautifully brought to stunning life. However, the crowning achievement of this multi-faceted story is how, through her words, the author brings to life places and people of a bygone era, making the readers feel as though they’re experiencing everything exactly how and as the characters are undergoing.
Like a master painter, with a few deft words Donnelly captures the ambiance of a city and a nation in turmoil. Set at the turn of century, it’s a time of change for the British (and indeed, the world) and nowhere is it more apparent than in the docks of Whitechapel. This poverty and disease ridden workingman’s area of London is the source of immense revenue, and yet it’s the blight on London’s face that no nobleman is willing to step into. But the workers are slowly but surely coming together in the form of Unions, to fight the oppression of the rich and the titled that reap the benefits of their labor and yet are unwilling to share the profits derived from their sweat. This is also the same time when Jack the Ripper has begun his murderous nightly quest. And so the scene is set for mayhem galore. At times, Donnelly’s words make the ugliness and the misery come to such life as to repulse you, but that just makes it all the more interesting.
As a beautiful counterpoint to all the ugliness, gore and unrest, there is the budding romance of two childhood sweethearts, Fiona and Joe. Their loud and large families, shy explorations into physical intimacy, constant struggle to work and save – everything reads true and bleeds romance. It’s enough to make you sniff sentimentally, if you’re that sort. However, things soon take a downward turn and the lovers are torn apart even as the situation at the docks comes to a boiling point.
Fiona flees for her life to New York where she’s faced with such challenges and temptations as would have overwhelmed a weaker person. But our heroine is made of sterner stuff and she triumphs against all odds. Or so you think. Once again Fate in the form of Donnelly steps in to create more complications. The focus shifts back to London where old ghosts must be laid to rest. How it all ends makes for a grand finale, almost Hollywood-like in its essence.
In fact that can be said of this entire book as well. All along, I felt like I was watching a period movie, one that goes from the squalors of London to the growing prosperity of New York. Most of the times you can guess what’s coming up, but this doesn’t in the least distract from the story. The true achievement of this novel lies in the author’s skill of capturing the ambiance of an era gone by – both in London and New York - through the form of small but accurate details whether it’s business, politics, social norms, dress, behavior, language etc. Real people put in cameo appearances and it’s delightful to read on, never knowing which famous character will pop up when.
Now that’s all said and done, let’s get to the heart of this novel. And that is TEA! You can glean that from the title itself. From the first page to the last, Tea in its various colors, aromas and strength serves as the focal point of this story. Having handled and tasted tea from a young age, Fiona is a connoisseur of Tea and uses this knowledge in the direst of times to make something of herself. Frankly, I found it impossible not to crave a cuppa when I read this book and mind you, I’m a coffee lover! It was interesting to see how Tea transcends country and class lines and provides nourishment and flavor from the humblest dockyard worker and his big family crammed in one room to the elegant lords and ladies in their grand salons.
Jennifer Donnelly skillfully weaves a web of various complex plot lines with the ease of a veteran and nearly ties them all up neatly towards the end. What’s left untied is fodder for the next novel in this series, The Winter Rose (I’ll be posting its review soon).
In short
Nearly every page of this five hundred plus pages book held me enthralled and I can say this about very few books. This challenging, charismatic story will live long in my memory and has been given a coveted space in my keeper shelf.
And now for the part you've all been waiting for --- this blog's very FIRST GIVEAWAY! The prize is a copy of this book, The Tea Rose.

Here are the rules - Open to Bloggers and non-bloggers. US only please. (I'm really sorry, international readers!). Deadline is midnight, CST, March 31st.

Bloggers : Please blog about this giveaway and include the direct link to the contest post in your comment. You MUST include your contact email address in the comment as well. Put it in the format : abc at xyz dot com, to elude spammers.

Use your own text or you can use this :
Are you interested in winning a free book? Here's your chance ....

A Book Blogger's Diary is having a fantastic book giveaway! Check out the review of "The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly", a book this reviewer calls "...A sweeping saga of enterprise, sacrifice, romance and glory..." and enter to win a copy.

And after you enter this giveaway, check out the rest of the blog to enter giveaways galore which this book blogger has gathered from around the web!

Enter before April 1st.

Non-bloggers : You can enter too. Just email me at the special contest email "winabook at gmail dot com" with "Contest entry" in the subject line and tell me about a favorite book of yours.
I'll use to pick the winner and make the announcement on my blog(s). Remember to add "winabook at gmail dot com" to your address book as the lucky winner will be receiving an email from me requesting your Full Name and address. I will then pass them on to the publisher and you'll be receiving your copy directly from them. (Neither I nor the publisher is responsible for lost or damaged copies.)

I'll wait 2 days for your response. Prizes unclaimed after 2 days will be awarded to another winner.

Note - Please don't email me at my usual email address. Entries sent there won't be entered into the contest. Only use the special email address for the contest which is : winabook at gmail dot com
Good luck!

Treat me to a Starbucks, so I can stay up late blogging my heart out!

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  1. Here is the link to my blog entry:
    my email is aleach6179ATgmailDOTcom

  2. LOL. Am I eligible? I included a link to your giveaway on my regular .

    But I'm not sure if I have to have an entry dedicated just to your blog, nor am I sure I have a "direct link."

    Sounds like a fabulous book though! I'd love to read it! It reminds me of The Crimson Petal and the White. Have you read that one? This one might not be as dark though, by your description.

    Katrina (at) stonoff (dot) com

  3. Hi,
    I'll get it posted later tomorrow. Been up since 4 a.m. Think I better wait until I have a clear head. LOL

  4. Katrina - yes, you're eligible, even though you got my blog name wrong :)

    Diane - take your time. You have until next Monday to post it. But come back and let me know with the url when you're done.

    Thanks, all!

  5. ACK! How embarrassing. I have repaired the mistake. At least, I think so. You might want to check it. :-(

    I see also that I my hidden link is all fouled up. For some reason, blogger hates my hidden links. They look find in the preview but do that when I post. If you want to delete the comment, I can post again, without the hidden link.

  6. Here's my blog entry:

  7. Thanks for entering, Claire. I saw you're having a giveaway too!

  8. Here's mine!

  9. Hi Everyone!

    OOooh I am SO excited about this book give-a-way. I haven't liked historical fiction (or so I thought) until I started hearing all the rave reviews for this book and the one second in the series. So, now I feel like I'm missing out on a whole bunch of good books in this Genre. I'd love to win.

    Here is the link!

    Thank you SO much for including me in your contest! It's one that I would really like to win. : )

    My best,

  10. Trish and Princess - Thanks for entering and good luck!

    Amy - you don't have a contact email in your profile. I can't contact you if you're the lucky winner!

  11. Oh yes...LOL Leave it to me! I was trying to get EVERYTHING right and I KNEW I'd forget something...

    I'm SO sorry.


    IAmHiMaintenance [at]aol [dot] com


    I linked you in my latest giveaway, so hopefully everyone looking for a good free book on my site will come visit you too. Have fun with the giveaway! The book looks fantastic, and you wrote a great review - now I gotta read it!

  13. Here is my link:
    My email is:

  14. Katrina - thanks for the amended link.

    Amy - got it, you're in.

    Diane - thanks, I'm blogging your giveaway as well.

    Roseann - You're in too, Thanks!

  15. Heh. Told you I'd enter!

    You have my e-mail. But it's all over the blogosphere.

  16. This sounds like a very interesting book, and I like the fact that it takes place on both sides of the Atlantic. I'm just in the process of starting my blog and don't really have it up and running, but will be happy to link with you in the future.
    njones127 at tampabay dot rr dot com

  17. HI, Just posted the link even though i am in the UK. Totally realise that i am not eligible for the prize but wanted to reward you with a link anyway.


  18. Here's my post about it:

    I'm at hannah DOT free AT gmail DOT com

  19. I have posted this to my blog too at

    Thanks Cheryl

  20. Susan - you're in!

    Nancy - it's really interesting. I'm reading the next one in the series, and it's also very good.

    Darren - I'm so sorry, fellow bookworm. Thanks for posting despite that.

    Word lily - got it, thanks!

    Cheryl - thanks for posting. I got your email from you blog. But you may want to think about putting it your profile as well. Makes it simpler.

  21. I linked with you from bookbabie. I'm in. Response can be made to pappy1atrgvdotrrdotcom.

    Sorry it took me so long. :(

  23. I posted about your contest and here is the link:
    I decided to wait because of my Author Week going on.


  24. Oh, I hope I'm not too late. I'm in Silver City and it's only 9:13 pm. :)

    I've posted you giveaway here:

    I hope I win. My email address is sherry @
    Thanks for the opportunity.

  25. I am entering to win The Tea Rose! I've been wanting to read this one for awhile now. Here is my entry:
    my email is: mrs.baldwin at hotmail dot com.


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