Title: The Tea Chest
Author: Josephine Moon
Genre: Chick Lit
Opening lines: “…Kate Fullerton’s second home for the past six years had been The Tea Chest …”
Blurb: Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she’d be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family’s future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down. Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to move on. When Kate’s, Leila’s and Elizabeth’s paths cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate’s vision of the newest and most delectable tea shop in London, The Tea Chest. But with the very real possibility that The Tea Chest may fail, the three women are forced to decide what’s important to each of them.
My thoughts: THE TEA CHEST opens with Kate inheriting a half share of ‘The Tea Chest’ from its owner Simone. The other half is owned by Simone’s hateful half-sister Judy and she just wants to sell up and walk away. ‘The Tea Chest’ is a shop that sells specialty teas and associated tea related knick-knacks. There is the branch in Brisbane, where the story opens, another one in Sydney and a third one is scheduled to open up in London. Selling tea to the British is going to be a huge task, but Kate believes in the business and also believes it is her duty to honour Simone’s legacy. It’s a huge step for Kate to take and a scary financial risk because Judy is not happy with the decision and will not put any money into the new venture. It also means Kate leaving her husband and young sons behind in Australia for months while she sets the London shop up. Kate and her husband are willing to take the risk, and a chance meeting has her recruiting Leila to handle the financial side of things and flying to London together. There, after another chance meeting in a London pub, Kate also hires Elizabeth and her sister Victoria. Leila is a publicist who needs to prove herself after she was fired for an incident with a fellow worker and management sided with him. Elizabeth had fled to London from Brisbane after she found out her husband was actually married to a woman in another country and had children with her. She and her sister Victoria are drowning Elizabeth’s sorrows at the pub when they meet and bond with Kate and Leila. The four women then have the challenge of turning a run-down dump into a beautiful attractive tea shop. They have to deal with a snooty shop owner in the same street that does not want any competition, negotiate with contractors and council inspectors, tread the murky waters of illegal immigrant workers, then deal with a dodgy financial backer and the face the terror of the London riots. On top of all this they each have to sort out what they want from life and grab it before it disappears.
THE TEA CHEST was an enjoyable and light read –not totally fluffy – just easy to read and I will happily read more books by Josephine Moon – she is in the throes of creating a new one right now. Then there are the teas, and not only are there the different teas, but the reader learns how they are created (and I have to say the idea of rose petals in tea fills me with horror). Kate, Leila and Elizabeth are all very believable characters and none of their journeys are smooth. The narrative switches between the women, each taking it in turns to propel the story forward and tell the reader how the different obstacles, both personal and professional, are faced and surmounted. All of them had a steep learning curve to climb and worked through the problems with the enthusiasm and support for each other. Then there is this odd little back story of Simone and Judy from their childhood through to the Simone’s death which I found a little off-putting and disjointed and is my only gripe with the story as it just seemed – well not necessary. I am a tea drinker – although not a very adventurous one. I enjoy other people making me tea but just can’t seem to get it right when I make it for myself. The trick I learned when using tea bags to make your cuppa (from Josephine Moon’s web page – http://josephinemoon.com/tea-tasting/ ) is not to squeeze the bag because this releases more tannin, and makes the tea taste bitter. I tried this today at work – I popped the bag in the mug, left it alone for a few minutes, took it out, didn’t squeeze the bag at all – and what a great cuppa it was!!! I just about moaned with delight. Maybe I SHOULD try rose petals?
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
For more about the author – Click Here
With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99