Snow Day—again–and The Tea Rose

The snow is thwarting my plan to get to the gym. Now, don’t misunderstand here–I’m not crying over the loss of a day at the gym. However, it is a bit frustrating to make a serious internal commitment to be healthier and then be routed in the attempt to make the commitment externally real as well.

So instead, as the snow comes down outside, I’m sitting her watching it fall. I’ve taken out the tree, vacuumed, resisted the urge to find chocolate (which I know lurks in the kitchen waiting to pounce on me when I am vulnerable),  knit a bit and read a bit.

The book I’m currently reading for the new book club is The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. I will confess that I just plain did not like the book.


It’s not so much the era–1880’s–or the setting–England–because I like both of these. Nor is it the Jack-the-Ripper component of the story. Mysteries, especially those around well known crimes of history, are quite interesting. I don’t even mind too much romance if it seems to be an addition to the story and not the sole focus.

I found the story to be predictable, making use of too many familiar tropes and stereotypes. Sometimes such familiar territory can be overcome by compelling characters or fresh writing and unfortunately, in my estimation, Tea Rose possesses neither.

Though it is a bit nit picky of me, the dialog was quite frustrating. It is written largely in phonetic dialect. I say largely because it seemed quite inconsistent which meant that I could not get into the swing of the accents. Although dialog written in phonetic dialect can sometimes be a problem or even a barrier to a reader connecting with characters and a story, well written and consistent dialect can be a wonderful vehicle to transport us to the time and place the writer wishes us to go. Unfortunately, the inconsistent use of it even with the same character’s words from one scene to the next, I felt like I was stumbling along through it all and it became altogether a burden.

There are pretty good questions at the back of the book for use in a book club setting. These are not bad at all and I think this was a great addition to the book. Even though I am not fond of it, I am sure that many will be and these questions will be handy for a group to use in their discussion.

And now, back to the knitting.


3 thoughts on “Snow Day—again–and The Tea Rose

  1. Wow! I was amazed to read your take on The Tea Rose… I read it months ago and absolutely loved it to death. I am an avid reader and can be quite picky, but have since also read the sequel, The Winter Rose, and loved it too. One of the best books I have ever read. Thus, I have just recommended it for our Book club book – we meet tomorrow night, but from all accounts so far, every single person in our book club absolutely loved it also… yours is the first negative review I have read about it, including reviews from other well known authors and reviewers – an interesting perspective perhaps – I am sure you had a lively discussion regarding such at your book club meeting… its always interesting to hear someone else’s thoughts on a book which are the complete opposite to yours…

    • Tam–Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment. 🙂
      That’s the great thing about fiction isn’t it? There’s something for everyone! And the great thing about book clubs–you get to experience lots of different kinds of books. Even if they weren’t to my taste, they are worth an look anyway 🙂
      Since you’ve read it, I can make a further comment on it as well.

      I felt that a lot of the book had a slightly vengeful feel to it. Kind of hard to put my finger on why exactly but I felt that somehow. Additionally, I was surprised that many people seem to identify Rose as being independent and “courageous” but I saw her as naive and quite dependent upon the good will of some and the victim of the bad will of others. I did think, however, that amid some quite gloomy and less than joyful moments in her life, there certainly were some good people who helped her when she needed it.

      Our group is reading The Forgotten Garden next. If you have any suggestions for other books, I’d love to take that back to my group.

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