Monday, 9 August 2010

Summer reading by Withenay Wanders

Richard and Judy have their list; the TV book club theirs.

I have a random collection taken from the library whilst my children work on their 'Space Hop' Summer Challenge. They are not chosen for their literary merit but usually for being a light read. Or for being at eye-level and with an attractive cover, of course.

So, first off the shelf is The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens.

I liked the sound of this: I like tea shops, as a general rule, and therefore am immediately attracted to the idea of sitting in one, drinking cups of tea and watching the world go by. Furthermore, when I took it off the shelf I read the review form the Irish Independent: "Maeve Binchy meets Joanna Trollope ... gives you a warm glow like a nice cup of tea." Exactly what I needed for a bit of summer reading.

The story is set in Ireland and revolves - unsurprisingly - around a tea shop and the love lives of its owners and regulars. There is a fairly standard mix of unfaithful husbands, affairs with sexy men, long lost loves, never-to-be loves and the aching for a baby marital strife. Everyone wants change but no-one is sure how to get it.

The tempting descriptions of cheesecake and desserts have me salivating from the start. The characters are well-written, introduced slowly from the beginning of the book, with sufficient back-story to give credence. However, I confess I was disappointed with the end. It was delightfully predictable and the author did manage to tie up all the loose ends, though rather handed to me (the reader) on a plate in the final chapter. It would have been nice to have something a little more enigmatic. For example, the story of Clare (loved and lost) probably could have been a book in itself, if the author had wished. Instead it all neatly tied up (oh look! he's just around the corner and currently single ...) and we quickly passed on to another character.

There are certainly interesting ideas in the story and a delightful mix of people to indulge myself with. There are several other books by the same author at the library and I wouldn't dismiss them if I wanted something light to read, but to my mind it was not in the same class as Maeve Binchy.

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