Now, so many years later, Pete’s naked body is stretched out on the bed, those handsome eyes closed. He is right next to me, but he feels so very far away. I go to the shower alone. When the tears start, they are hot and full. I stand under the stream and let the water flow over my eyelids and nose and splash onto my chest. Suddenly too tired to stand, I sit down and curl my knees toward my breasts. I imagine Mama coming in and seeing me like this. Whatever mood she was in, and there were some bad ones, she would give me a towel. Tell me to get up and come have toast. She’d put the kettle on and fill a hot-water bottle, slide it into a brown woollen cover. She’d make tea. I wait, the shower tiles leaving an imprint on my backside, but no one comes to wrap me in a towel; there is only the sound of water falling.
Expats Grace, originally from England, and her Aussie husband Pete have moved to Macau, China for Pete’s job constructing a new casino. Their marriage has been on the rocks after multiple tries to get pregnant. When Grace’s worse fear has been confirmed (she is indeed infertile) everything starts to fall apart. Looking for a purpose to her life in this strange land, on a whim Grace decides to open a cafe serving tea and macarons to the people of Macau.
Grace is a warm personality, and soon her shop is busy with expats and locals alike. One regular is Gigi, a young woman who is tough on the outside but inwardly fearful of what her life is going to be like after becoming pregnant by her delinquent boyfriend. Gigi’s grandmother, Yok Lan, who only speaks Cantonese, also frequents the cafe, enjoying her morning tea and macarons by the window. Marjory, an expat like Grace, is also looking for meaning in her life, even if she seems completely put together on the outside. Then there is Rilla, a Filipino ex-maid who is working at the cafe, but who is also hiding something from everyone. These women quickly build an unlikely friendship that in turn helps Grace to come to terms with her life in Macau.
The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe is exactly what you would expect from looking at the beautiful cover art – an easy to read book that doesn’t delve too far into it’s subject matter. The parts of the book I appreciated most were the author’s wonderful descriptions of the macaron creations (some of which literally made my mouth water) and various poignant passages like the one I highlighted above about life and loss. I also came to really like the characters in the book and was very interested to see where the story would lead them. I’ve had the opportunity to travel through China (not Macau though, although my husband worked there before coming to the US) and enjoy books set in that country. In fact, I thought the book was quite nice until the last chapter. I have to agree with Kathy’s (of Bermuda Onion fame) review of this book as she also had a hard time with the ending of the story. I wasn’t as shocked by the ending as she was, as I was imagining that it was going that direction mid-way through the novel, but was hoping that it wouldn’t end the way it did. It really took away from the rest of the book, as it was highly unrealistic and all together too sticky sweet for my tastes.
Even though I would say ultimately that I did enjoy The Color of Tea, I wasn’t all together thrilled with the last few pages of the book. If you can get past the unrealistic ending, the book itself was a nice exploration of female friendships and finding meaning in your life.
Thank you TLC Book Tours for sending this book to me to review. To find out what other people had to say about The Color of Tea, make sure to check out these tour stops!
Monday, July 9th: Book Club Classics!
Tuesday, July 10th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 11th: girlichef
Monday, July 16th: Book Addiction
Wednesday, July 25th: Stiletto Storytime
Thursday, July 19th: Twisting the Lens
Monday, July 30th: A Bookish Affair
Friday, August 3rd: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, August 6th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Thursday, August 9th: Southern Girl Reads
Monday, August 13th: Suko’s Notebeook
TBD: Regular Rumination