I heard about this book and ended up reading it somewhat by chance. I was reading through the postings on and saw a posting about The Winter Rose coming out. They were excited to get a chance to read it. A few days later, I got a reminder from one of my book clubs reminding me that I had earned a free book in November. The Winter Rose was one of my choices, so I snapped it up. It was only when I reported back to that thread that I discovered that it was a sequel to The Tea Rose. As luck would have it, the local library had a copy. It was an enjoyable romp through working class London during the late 1800s as well as through New York, when it was still pretty new.
It tells the story of Fiona Finnegan, a feisty teenager from a loving working class family. She is working for the tea factory in order to help with the family expenses, but she is also able to put money aside with her neighbor and love of her life, Joe. The two of them are saving money in order to one day marry and own their own vegetable shop. Life in working class London can seem bleak. Money is tight for everyone and Jack the Ripper is on the loose. Still, their shared dream keeps them alive and happy.
There happiness is shattered by life after Joe accepts a job with a wealthy shopkeeper that takes him away from London. At that same time, Fiona’s family suffers several great tragedies. When Fiona discovers the true nature of her father’s death, she is forced to flee to New York, in hopes that her paternal uncle will be able to care for her and Seamus, her brother. What Fiona finds in America is daunting, but through her perseverance, her strong character shines. She makes many friends and becomes a great success in business at a time when women didn’t normally have the opportunity to do so. It is her success in New York that she hopes will provide her with the tools she needs to avenge her father’s death. Still, which Fiona has all the outward signs of success, she lacks the one thing in life she truly wants: the love and companionship of Joe. With an ocean separating them, she can only dream that all of her hard work will eventually provide her with complete happiness.
I really enjoyed The Tea Rose. Although there were parts that seemed a little long, I enjoyed experiencing London in a different period of time. It was a far cry from the usual escapades during the Tudor or Elizabethan eras. I also don’t read much historical fiction taking place in America. I loved the feel of New York on the rise. Most importantly, it was wonderful to read a story about a strong female character who was able to make her own destiny through hard work, determination, and intelligence. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who relishes reading about strong women.
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