Sunday, 2 September 2012

Book review: The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 11 October 2012 by Sphere, 403 pages.

Description: Three very different women meet and fall for the same vintage tea set at a car boot sale in Sussex. They decide to share it - and form a friendship that changes their lives . . .

Jenny can't wait to marry Dan. Then, after years of silence, she hears from the woman who could shatter her dreams.

Maggie has put her broken marriage behind her and is gearing up for the biggest event of her career - until she's forced to confront the past once more.

Alison seems to have it all: married to her childhood sweetheart, with two gorgeous daughters. But as tensions mount, her parriage is pushed to breaking point.

Dealing with friendship and families, relationships and careers, highs and lows, The Vintage Teacup Club is heart-warming storytelling at its very best.

Rating:



Imagine sitting down with the perfect cup of tea in a delicate gold rimmed cup - which is decorated with daisies, roses, or another flower of your choice - and a mouth-watering slice of freshly baked chocolate cake on the side which is covered in sweet icing. Sounds quite perfect, doesn't it? That is exactly what reading The Vintage Teacup Club feels like.

With delightful descriptions of gorgeous antique tea sets (very much like the one gracing the stunning cover) and wonderful characters the book is sweet, cute and very inviting, just like a delicious cup of tea after a long working day.

In her debut novel Vanessa Greene uses an original take on the "club" sub-genre in women's literature. The story centres around three characters, all looking for vintage teacups. And as all three reach out for the same set at the start of the novel a deal is made and an unexpected friendship is born.

There are many lines by Greene that are beautiful but this one in particular perfectly depicts what the novel is all about:

"To new friends, a port in the storm."


While all three characters get nearly equal exposure, it is Jenny who comes across as the main protagonist as hers is the one told from the first perspective. About to get married to her fiancé Dan, Jenny is looking for vintage tea cups to grace the tables on her wedding day. While at the start of the book it looks like her life is pretty much picture perfect, trouble brews when someone from her past suddenly makes a re-appearance.

Alison is a wife and mum of two rebellious teenage girls. Her husband Pete lost his job and it's up to her to supplement their income with her craft works. One of the more popular items she makes are candles in a tea cup, which is of course the very reason she strolls through antique fairs searching for her next stash of cups.

Maggie owns flower shop "Bluebelle du Jour" and is currently working on the flower arrangements for an Alice in Wonderland inspired wedding. She believes that a collection of vintage tea sets would be perfect for the Mad Hatter's Tea Party aspect of the celebrations. That is, if she can reason with landscaper Owen, who's a good friend of the groom and helping out as a favour to the bridal party, as with his lack of wedding planning experience he grates on Maggie's nerves.

All three characters are well thought out and interesting from a reader's point of view. And as they span several generations there is something relatable to be found for everyone. In fact, by the end of the novel I felt I had gained three unexpected friends myself, whom I'd love to regularly catch up with over a cup of tea and a scone, generously covered in clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam.

As Jenny reflects upon their friendship near the end of the novel, she pretty much describes exactly what I was feeling when reading the book:

"As I watched Ali and Maggie talking, I thought back to the start of the Summer and the moment we'd met, how little we'd known each other then. Step by step we'd let each other in, and now it was hard to imagine that we hadn't always been there for each other. These women were both so strong, had bounced back from life's knocks and come out better for it. But then I suppose, somehow, with their help, I had done the same."

The only "complaint" I have about the The Vintage Teacup Club is that it's a fairly quick read. At times I tried to slow my regular reading pace down in an attempt to delay the inevitable, the final pages. Unfortunately, despite my efforts, it was still over too soon. However, the novel was a delightful read while it lasted and it has left me with some fantastic inspirational ideas (such as forming a friendship club around vintage teacups, or collecting them for my own wedding… one day).


Many thanks to Sphere for the proof copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review!

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