Flashback Friday: The Tea Rose

by Jennifer Donnelly

“We’re not punished for our sins, lad. We’re punished by them.”

This week I found out that Jennifer Donnelly will have a new young adult novel this fall (which I promptly secured an ARC of, and am so excited to read!), which I was taken aback by more because I check in on her website pretty regularly. So I decided to celebrate with my favorite Jennifer Donnelly title for Flashback Friday.

While Donnelly made her name with A Northern Light, The Tea Rose is my favorite title. It begins an epic trilogy filled with beautiful historical details and wonderfully drawn characters. The Tea Rose starts in England in 1888. Fiona grows up in the slums of London. She has dreams and a lover, and a life in the making. And then all of that is shattered by men striking back at her father’s attempts to unionize. Fiona flees to America. And we continue to follow her journey to make her dreams come true, and reconcile her former life. We explore complex issues and we get a good romance.

The Tea Rose is followed up by the Winter Rose and the Wild Rose. Each installment is impeccably drawn and deep, while remaining compelling throughout. Donnelly is just so good at drawing historical worlds. She doesn’t romanticize the past, but it still feels tangible. Her characters feel like real people existing in a real world. Their world and circumstances are much different than ours, and yet she manages to highlight the similarities as well.

Donnelly’s upcoming YA title, These Shallow Graves, looks to be a promising addition to this tradition in a way that I wasn’t wow-ed by her mermaid novel Deep Blue. I’m excited to see her come back to historical fiction, not that I do not believe she isn’t capable of executing other genres, just that I’m selfish and love her historical novels. Also be sure to check out her time travel YA historical Revolution!

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