The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene
|The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sophie Diamond|
|Summary: A lovely story about friends that’s as warming as a cup of tea on a rainy day.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 405||Date: September 2014|
Charlie, Kat and Seraphine, are strangers brought together in the Seafront Tea Rooms by their mutual love of afternoon tea. Kat is a young, single mum struggling to get by while her ex provides very little help, Charlie is a heartbroken journalist writing a tea feature for her magazine while visiting her difficult sister, and French Seraphine has come across the channel to au pair, improve her English and get some perspective on a new, complicated relationship.
When Charlie arrives in town, she is delighted to find the fascinating Tea Rooms and their owner Letty. She thinks they would be perfect for a feature in her article but Kat, a regular customer who loves the peace the Tea Rooms offer, begs her to keep it a secret. Charlie agrees on the condition that Kat help her explore other tea rooms in the area. Kat is delighted to join her, and once they recruit baking-enthusiast Seraphine, the three women find themselves discovering great friendship as well as tea and cakes.
Everything about this book is nice. It has a lovely cover, lovely characters and a lovely setting. In most chick-lit fiction, the plot revolves around a main character’s love-life and Greene has made a nice break away from that. Sure the characters have tangled romantic lives but that’s on the periphery, the story is about friendship and how even the biggest problems seem manageable when you’ve got friends on your side.
The characters are pleasantly different to your chick-lit regulars. Charlie is a high achiever who’s very proud of her career success, Kat’s a young single mum and Seraphine is a graduate just trying to figure things out (but without being annoyingly ditsy). Through her three protagonists, Greene explores different choices and lifestyles for women.
First you have Charlie, who is constantly at odds with her perfect-house-wife sister, who thinks she has been wrong to choose a career over settling down. Then you have Kat, whose relationship fell apart when she fell accidentally pregnant, leaving her struggling to raise her three-year old son without much support. And finally there’s Serpahine, who has escaped to England because she’s worried that if her family know her secret, they’ll disown her. Instead of finding judgement, the three, very different, women lean on each other and receive the support, acceptance and bravery that comes from having true friends.
That’s ultimately what’s so lovely about the book. It’s about drawing friends and family closer together. Saying that, you will have to prepare yourself for some huge bits of cheese every now and again, (including ridiculous gushy speech that no one would ever say) but in chick lit that’s never wholly unavoidable.
Not a great deal actually happens in this story, and what revelations do occur are very, very predictable but in a book like this I don’t think that really matters. It’s all about the enjoyment of immersing yourself in the story and someone else's head for a few hours. As lovely as the book is, it did miss that special quality that makes the characters tug on your heart strings. But that, and the slightly naff (and ridiculously logic-defying) ending are the only remotely negative remarks I can say about this story.
The Seafront Tea Rooms is lovely. It’s easy to read, comforting and just all round pleasant. It’s not a groundbreaking book that you’ll want to tell all your friends about but what it does, it does well.
For more from Vanessa Greene we can recommend The Vintage Teacup Club.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene at Amazon.co.uk
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