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A Reader of Fictions: Red Right Ankle - The Decemberists

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, January 30, 2012

Red Right Ankle - The Decemberists

The Tea Rose
The Tea Rose, Book 1

Jennifer Donnelly
Pages: 557
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Yet again, I'm not even going to try to summarize this book. Trying to do so would diminish its scope, as the story spans years and talking specifically to the plot would risk spoilers, which I am exceedingly loath to do, because no one should have this spoiled.

The Tea Rose spans a decade and two continents. It is first and foremost a love story, but don't let that fool you. As they say, "the course of true love never did run smooth." Joe and Fiona have been best friends all their lives, having grown up on the same street. They've been in love from the time they had such thoughts, and they both have huge ambitions to run a shop and have all the money they could ever need.

This is a story of poverty, of unions, of economics, of business. Fiona's family with three strong men to earn money in their various jobs can barely get by. They aren't able to save any money. Fiona works too, but women make a pittance compared to men, even though they spend just as much time at work. The employers refuse to pay more than a few pennies to their workers. Everyone has an air of desperation about them, except for the few folks who have all the money because they've squeezed the poor folks dry.

This is a horror story. In case East London doesn't sound terrifying enough, you will not be disappointed. Jack the Ripper's there too. And the cops can't find anything to figure out who he is or how to stop him. At least, he's only killing prostitutes, but who knows when that will change. Besides, how comforting is that when everyone you know is just a missed day of work or two away from that level of desperation?

This is a story of tragedy. Donnelly will get you excited and hopeful, and then stomp on your heart, light it on fire and then drown it. Even in the depths of despair when it seems the characters (and thus you, bound up in their fate) will never make it, she manages to kindle inspiration and hope. Completely beautiful.

The spark that makes all the parts of this novel come together lies in the characters, particularly Fiona. These are people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Nothing can prevent Fiona from becoming a success; she will overcome any hardship thrown at her. She is undoubtedly one of the strongest heroines in literature. I may not always agree with her choices, as she is much more forgiving than I could ever be, but I always admire her spunk and intelligence and drive.

Donnelly made me cry. She made me angry, frustrated, terrified. She made me smile and left me feeling somewhat hopeful. You have to love a book that can run you through the gamut of human of emotions. This book is amazingly well-written and complex. This is historical fiction at its finest.

Rating: 5/5

"This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
And some were sweet, some were cold and snuffed you
And some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you"

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Blogger Steena said...

So, I'm currently on chapter 19 of this book, not even a third of the way through, and I'm realizing it is absolutely the worst book to read just before bed. I don't want to use any spoilers but I was mad at my husband last night because of Joe. Obviously, my husband has done nothing wrong and did nothing to deserve my wrath, other than being male. That was enough. GrumbleGrrRassafrassin'Grumble.

March 21, 2012 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

It's so good, but that definitely made me so angry. I bet hubby was not pleased, haha. The book's worth it, but I just want to punch that little blonde hussy in the face, and Joe too.

March 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM  

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