Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Set in Macau, a former Portuguese colony in China where casinos are legal and a large ex-pat community lives, The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe is a story of a woman learning to accept the hand she's dealt and to find happiness within herself. Grace Miller is what’s called a trailing spouse. She’s followed her husband Pete, who is building a new casino, to Macau. Uncertain what to do with her life in China but unwilling to wait tables as she’s done on their previous moves, she gets a phone call from her doctor in London confirming that she’s in premature menopause and will be unable to have children, news that sends her into a tailspin and alienates her from Pete, unable to discuss the death of her dream of a family with him. Their marriage frays and unravels as she drifts unseeing and undirected through her days.

A chance happening upon a store space for rent, a space with ovens, ignites a spark in Grace that has been missing for so long and she decides to open a French café specializing in coffee, tea, and macarons. With the help of Leon, the chef husband of another ex-pat and the man Grace has been fantasizing about, Grace learns to make the delicate and delicious macarons she intends to serve at her café. Still estranged from Pete, living separate lives while inhabiting the same apartment, Grace plunges into Lillian’s, determined to make a success of the café she’s named for her mother and which she’s paid for with the money carefully saved to pursue fertility treatments that will never happen now. Through the café, she will meet other strong women, Rilla, Marjory, Gigi, and Yok Lan, women from various cultures and of different generations who work with and for her, become friends, and grow into family. And through these different women, all facing their own challenges, Grace’s heart will unfreeze and she will learn to care again, finding meaning and happiness in her relationships and finally her marriage.

Narrated in the first person by Grace, the reader is allowed to see what drives her, why she makes the mistakes she does, and just how hurt and devastated she is by having to change her plans for a family. Her visceral grief for the loss of her dream of children is palpable, her displaced attraction to Leon and the life he represents, a life she is striving towards, is understandable if ill-advised, her inability to connect with Pete over their shared despair is heartbreakingly evident, and her struggle to first connect with and then open her heart and trust her friends and employees is authentic, coming as it does in fits and starts. Including letters Grace has written to her mother and never sent opens her character up even more to the reader as do the flashbacks to her childhood and her dawning understanding of the mercurial and unique woman who was her Mama. Aside from the chapter headings of exotic and delicious sounding macaron flavors Grace serves in her café, this is not foodie fiction as much as it is fiction about relationship and family. The ending of the book was a bit disappointing as it was clearly evident from about the midpoint of the story but it will suit readers who look for a happy ending. Over all a comforting and quick read, this novel is perfect for readers who want gentle women’s fiction with a touch of the exotic, especially if they can accompany the reading with a cup of tea and a macaron themselves.

For more information about Hannah Tunnicliffe and the book visit her website. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.


  1. This sounds like something that I may enjoy. I will have to download a sample. Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. I think I'd enjoy that "touch of the exotic" you mention.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts