Jennifer Donnelly is a tea enthusiast and amateur rosarian. She lives in Brooklyn and Callicoon, New York, with her husband and two greyhounds. "The Tea Rose "is her first book.
In 1888, Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow hoard shillings and pennies so that they can marry and open a shop. But Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of London's East End, and poverty threatens from the shadows. Setting the story in motion is the murder of Fiona's father, a dock worker whose union activities angered his tea-company boss. Fiona and her younger brother must flee to New York City to avoid their own murders. Through hard work and luck, Fiona and her beloved Joe prosper on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Misunderstandings and mistakes keep them apart as they build separate lives and incredible fortunes. Children's book writer Donnelly effortlessly takes her narrative through slums and high society while intertwining a number of subplots without tangling them. Both major and minor characters capture and hold interest and sympathy. Although the number of Fiona and Joe's near encounters stretches the imagination, readers will forgive the tease once the lovers' reunion and Fiona's revenge for her father's death converge in an action-packed ending. Public library readers will relish this rags-to-riches romance. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'This is a most seductive novel. You'll be charmed by the novels heroine - her intelligence, her courage, her great heart. Despite her suffering - a lost love, a tragic family - there are moments you will want to cheer. It's the kind of novel where the writing is so fluid you feel the author simply loves telling her story. This is a splendid, heartwarming novel of pain, struggle, decency, triumph - and just what we need in these times.' Frank McCourt 'I loved this vividly researched and wonderfully rumbustious yarn - brilliantly told, great fun to read.' Simon Winchester 'The Tea Rose is the kind of book that calls for a rainy day, a cozy chair and a good, steaming cup of tea. It's strong and satisfying, with a taste that lingers in the memory.' Paula Cohen 'Bold, brisk and beguiling, The Tea Rose is a splendid brew of a book.' Sam Twining 'It's so much fun...This is London in the 1880s, the London of Charles Dickens and Edward Rutherford, a teeming, messy place full of business, dirt and poverty. Once in New York, we trip from the tenements of the Lower East Side to elegant dining at Delmonico's, with hardly a paragraph to catch our breath...The atmosphere of both starring cities is created in satisfying detail. One can walk the streets and listen to the people chat in the company of Jennifer Donnelly, who has done her historical homework...She delivers.' Washington Post
Donnelly indulges in delightfully straightforward storytelling in this comfortably overstuffed novel. In 1880s London, the squalid Thames-side neighborhood of Whitechapel is home to Fiona Finnegan, spunky daughter of Paddy Finnegan. Both are employed by unscrupulous tea merchant William Burton, but Fiona is saving to start a shop with her love, Joe Bristow. Just as her future seems assured, a string of tragedies toppledher hopes. Joe is tricked into marriage to another woman, Burton has Paddy killed for supporting a labor union, Fionas mother is murdered by Jack the Ripper and Fionas distraught brother is found dead in the Thames. Fiona had been attempting to get compensation from Burton for her fathers death, but when she overhears his boasts of killing Paddy, she must flee for her life with her sole remaining brother, five-year-old Seamie. She rushes to a seaport, but cannot get passage until the wealthy dandy Nicholas Soames offers it, pretending she is his wife. The scene switches to New York City of the Gay 90s, to the glitter of Delmonicos, the elegance of Gramercy Park and the crowded tenements of downtown. Fiona lodges with her alcoholic Uncle Michael and saves both him and his grocery on her way to making her fortune in the tea industry. But she never forgets her familys fate, and when she can, she returns to England to revenge herself on Burton. Though Donnellys indomitable heroine steps out of period character from time to time"her easy acceptance of Soamess homosexuality is particularly unlikely"the novels lively plotting, big cast of warmly drawn characters and long-deferred romantic denouement make this a ripping yarn. In the final dramatic settling of scores, Donnelly even ventures to unmask Jack the Ripper. (Oct. 1) Forecast: This epic historical novel has more muscle than most and comes equipped with blurbs from Frank McCourt and Simon Winchester. Rights have been sold in France, Germany and Italy, and Donnelly will embark on an author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.