Tuesday 17 June 2014

The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

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 start again.

When the three women's paths unexpectedly cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate's magical vision for London's branch of The Tea Chest. But every time success is within their grasp, increasing tensions damage their trust in each other.

With the very real possibility that The Tea Chest will fail, Kate, Leila and Elizabeth must decide what's important to each of them. Are they willing to walk away or can they learn to believe in themselves?

An enchanting, witty novel about the unexpected situations life throws at us, and how love and friendship help us through. Written with heart and infused with the seductive scents of bergamot, Indian spices, lemon, rose and caramel, it's a world you won't want to leave.

The Tea Chest is published in paperback in the UK by Allen & Unwin on 3 July 2014, and is Josephine Moon's first novel.

I picked up my copy of The Tea Chest after just finishing a very violent and dark crime thriller and found the perfect antidote, it lifted me from a world full of tense and often gruesome events to the sunshine and cheer of a tea shop in a busy Australian city.

Kate Fullerton loves her job as a tea designer for The Tea Chest, she spends her days dreaming up all sorts of delectable tea treats for her discerning customers in the beautiful surroundings created by her boss Simone. Combined with her husband's successful career and their small family, life seems good.

After Simone's tragic and unexpected death, Kate finds herself the owner of a half-share in The Tea Chest and is determined to realise Simone's dream of opening a branch in London - the other side of the world. Enter Judy - the other part-owner of the business.  Judy has very different plans for the future of the shops, she'd like to sell up and get out. Kate is no business woman, she's creative, a designer - but she also shares Simone's vision and makes the huge decision to fly across the world to make the dream a reality.

Kate meets the other two main characters in this story; Leila and Elizabeth, and between them they face the challenge of converting what can only be described as a dump of a shop into a welcoming tea shop - that makes a profit. Along the way they deal with arrogant contractors, neighbours who would rather not have any competition, dodgy labour and frightening financiers, as well as dealing with their own individual problems.

Josephine Moon blends her story as well as Kate blends her tea. There is humour, and there are tears. Each woman has their own individual voice that adds layers to the story, increasing the depth of the plot. The reader is also let into the back story of Judy and Simone, which explains just why Judy takes the stand that she does. To be honest, I felt as though that part was sometimes a little distracting, but it did help to understand Judy's personality somewhat.

A good debut from Josephine Moon; the tea-room setting and the detailed description of tea blending is a refreshing change from the high-flying office block settings of many novels of this genre.

My thanks to Allen & Unwin who sent my copy for review, along with a gorgeous cotton tea-towel printed with the cover image - I love it!

Josephine Moon took the long route to fulfilling her dream of being a writer, writing ten manuscripts in twelve years and stopping off in more jobs than she can count before people start to wonder about her stability; however, she likes to think she was just gathering research for the many characters she would later write about.
Her longest careers have been as a teacher (three years) and an editor (four years). She also founded and ran a horse rescue charity in SE Qld for three years, working nearly full time for no pay, but a lot of personal reward and a paddock full of retired horses that now eat their way through her spending money. She loves animals and includes in her life’s highlights swimming with humpback whales in Tonga.
She has witnessed a (small) tsunami, been ‘tickled’ by lightening (not funny in the slightest, but she didn’t die so let’s call it a jovial jolt), was a contestant on the children’s television show Now You See It (back in the 80s, can you believe) twice but didn’t make it past the second round either time (something she may still harbour resentment about), and once accidentally ate breakfast out of the bowl her cat had just licked clean of tuna.
She lives with her husband, son and animals on acreage on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, very much enjoying the splendours of sushi, beaches, cafes, fresh food markets and festivals. Sometimes she prepares great, organic superpower foods and other times she eats toast.
Josephine likes to write about food and thinks of her books as nourishment for the soul. And if she’d known she could claim a high tea as a legitimate research tax deduction, she would have written about food much sooner.

For more information check out her website www.josephinemoon.com
Follow her on Twitter @josephine_moon  and her Facebook page

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1 comment:

  1. Just finished it too. A nicely 'blended' story with just enough intrigue and lovely descriptions of tea! Great review, Anne, thank you.