The Travelling Tea Shop
By Belinda Jones
Author’s Website: http://sunloungerstories.com/belinda-jones-bio
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Laurie loves a challenge. Especially if it involves anything beautiful, baked and frosted. The brief is simple: With three other women, Laurie will board a London bus – kitted out as an English tea shop – on a deliciously different road trip of the USA.
Their mission: To bring home-grown classics like Battenberg, Victoria sponge and scones to the land of cupcakes, whoopie pies and gold-leafed chocolate sundaes.
And to show them how a real cup of tea is made. All of the women have their own secrets and heartaches to heal. As well as a grand appreciation of cupcakes, there’s also the chance for romance…
But will making whoopee lead to love?
All aboard for: New York – Connecticut – Rhode Island – Massachusetts – Maine – New Hampshire – Vermont. (Goodreads)
Laurie is a transplanted Englander in New York City, a travel agent who loves planning trips and loves cake. So when one of her cooking idols, Pamela, needs a guide to steer her through New England for a new cookbook, Laurie is beside herself with excitement when she gets the job. A winding journey through some of the greatest American sights with some fantastic desserts, riding in a custom fitted double decker bus, with Pamela and Pamela’s daughter Ravenna and mother Gracie at the wheel seems ideal. But all is not sweetness and light – Ravenna is spoiled and has some serious attitude issues, Pamela is not her usual put-together self since she is going through a divorce and dealing with a pretty big secret, and Gracie is injured in an accident. Laurie is dealing with her own woes – feeling a bit alone and missing her deceased mother and blaming her addict sister for her death. Enter retired teacher Charlie Porter, who has a past with Pamela, to drive the bus in Gracie’s absence, and his son Harvey who immediately steals Laurie’s heart.
The Travelling Tea Shop is my first read by Belinda Jones, and it is a fine example of fluffy chick lit. Its premise caught my attention. English culture plus a road trip in a double decker bus plus cake. I am there. And these were the things that I most enjoyed about the book. I felt like I was taking a trip through New England with lots of interesting tidbits about the locations and desserts originating at these spots. I think I was hungry the whole time I was reading…Boston Cream Pie, Red Velvet Cake, cupcakes, scones….
Laurie was charming, and I enjoyed her conversational style as narrator. Charlie and Harvey were also strong, personable characters, and I liked getting to know them. Pamela was much too wishy washy, and I frequently found myself losing patience with her. And, of course, Ravenna was just vile through most of the book but had a good turn around in the end, although it seemed a bit too abrupt of a change and too neatly packaged. Gracie was by far my favorite character, and I could “listen” to her stories happily. It was unfortunate that she was relegated to a much smaller presence after her accident. Where the novel failed for me is probably the reason some will love it. I found it too fluffy. There was potential to really delve into the characters’ various “problems”, and I feel it was missed opportunity.
The Travelling Tea Shop was a quick, easy read, and I heartily recommend it to readers who enjoy light chick lit and to those who harbor Anglophile obsessions.