Top critical review
Disappointing historical adventure
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 October 2016
I have very mixed feelings about this book. After reading The Gathering Light I had great expectations of The Tea Rose but sadly it is not a novel of quality, merely a good yarn. Starting in 1888 the story moves from Whitechapel, London to New York. Heroine Fiona Finnegan, a poor worker in a tea factory experiences one tragedy after another until the dastardly villain causes her to run away to America. Believing she has been abandoned by her sweetheart, Joe, she teams up with kind, ineffectual aristocrat, Nick, and gradually moves from rags to riches.
I was very concerned by the vocabulary. No-one in London or New York would talk constantly of, “going to the Loo,” in the 1880s and “going for a date” and “brainstorm” were not words of that time either. There are many convenient happenchances and the murders of Jack the Ripper are included to tempt readers to pick up the book, but Jennifer Donnolly is at her best when using her own imagination to create an amazing twist in the plot. It is for this reason that I carried on reading to the end, though the melodramatic conclusion wasn’t really necessary.
So if you can suspend your disbelief and lose yourself in a tale of good and evil with a strong heroine, without questioning historical accuracy, then this is an enjoyable tale, but I won’t be continuing with this trilogy.