Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Color of Tea, review and interview

An exciting debut novel set in the exotic, bustling streets of coastal China—a woman whose life is restored when she opens a small cafÉ and gains the courage to trust what’s in her heart.Lost among the mayhem that defines Macau, Grace’s life is slowly unraveling. Her marriage to Pete is fraying and her dreams of having a family seem hopeless. With the heralding of a new year she resolves to do something bold. Something her impetuous Mama might do. In this pocket of China, filled with casinos and yum cha restaurants, she opens her own small cafe called Lillian’s. This sanctuary of macarons and tea becomes a place where the women of Macau come together, bridging cultural divides, to share in each other’s triumphs and pain. But Grace’s immersion in the cafe takes its toll on her marriage, and when things start to crumble, her beloved Lillian’s suddenly feels like a burden rather than an escape. The recipe for disaster is complete when Pete does the unthinkable. Infused with the heady aromas of Macau and peppered with delectable characters, The Color of Tea is a mouth-watering journey of the senses as Grace rediscovers what it is to love, to live with hope, and embrace real happiness.
My Thoughts:
When I start reading a new book there are a couple of things that have to happen in order for me to one: start reading the book, and two: continue reading the book.  The cover of the book is not always important for me but I do love a cover that captures my eye and I sit back and say "oh now that's a beautiful cover" but sometimes I find a cover of a book so beautiful or interesting it can be the only reason I get it and happy I did because it turns out it was an amazing book, but, sometimes that also back fires on me as well.  Also if I can't get past the first 2 - 3 chapters most of the time I will put the book aside for a bit but I will always pick it up at a later time, I NEVER not finish a book, it's kind of like a "B" movie, ya just gotta find out what happens at the end of it lol.

Hannah Tunnicliffe has done both, created a beautiful cover very fitting for this book and I had absolutely no problem getting past the first 2 - 3 chapters, in fact the very first chapter had me captured and happily reading and not wanting to put it down at all.  Now I'm not sure if you all know this about me, but some of my love's are food lol (who's isnt), a great book, and travelling (which I never get to do).  I have always been very interested in Asian culture, it's beauty, serinity, work ethic, respectfulness, lanuage, their love of family, it is a place I have always wanted to travel to.  Hannah's detailed descriptions of not only the character's she has created but the cafe Grace has built right down to Macau, China made me feel like I was right there in the story. I could see, feel, hear, and smell everything she was describing, some books go overboard with the details so much that it leaves nothing to the imagination, that was not the case here. 

I have to say for a debut novel Hannah has come out with a huge bang! I really loved this book, it is an easy read as the story flows with all the right elements in all the right places.  The characters, oh how I loved them all, I made a connection with all of them from Grace to Rilla, Gigi and Marjory and Gigi's grandmother Yok Lan.  Grace started out as a weak character but given her current circumstances you understand why, and I really don't think it was that she was weak as much as it was she just didn't understand how to break away from her sadness the was overtaking her.  Once Grace decided to open the cafe and the others entered her life that's when the cloud started to lift from Grace's life and eye's. 

This was a fabulous story, a great plot and ending, it made me smile, laugh out loud, even tear up at times, it was emotional and I think throughout the book we could at some point relate in someway to what Grace was either going through for feeling. It made me not want the story to end, it would be great to have a second book years later to see how things turned out for all of them.  Bravo Hannah, Bravo, a wonderful debut novel and I can't wait to read more from you.  I highly recommend this book and hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  Enjoy!!!    Now on to my interview with Hannah.

Please help me welcome Hannah Tunnicliffe to The Purple Jelly Bean Chair, thank you for being here with us today Hannah and please have a seat in the Purple Jelly Bean Chair, Welcome Hannah!

1. How did you get the idea for this novel? What kind of research did you have to do to bring this story to life on the page?
The idea for the novel came to me while on a ferry ride between Hong Kong and Macau. I imagined a woman writing to her mother, a complicated relationship strained by distance and time apart. At the same time I had been thinking about the effect of having children or not being able to have children impacts a woman’s life. Although the plot didn’t come to me all at once these two themes were prevalent from the beginning. Over time the characters developed and they helped to explore these themes in their own ways.
I did a lot of research into various aspects of the book from learning to make macarons with a professional pastry chef through to understanding specific medical conditions. I am lucky enough to have friends that are experts in language or experiences the characters went through whom I regularly plied with questions and bribes.
2. Your characters seem so alive and real, what’s your secret?
Thank you! I’m not sure I have a secret but perhaps it is that I really love them. They feel real to me. Marjory makes me laugh, Gigi is spirited and clever, Yok Lan is adorable, Rilla is sweet and strong, and Grace, the protagonist, well, she is like the rest of us – kind, complicated, fearful and hopeful all at once. She is imperfect but tries her best and I love her for that. Hopefully readers can recognize themselves (flaws and all) and the women they love in the characters in The Color of Tea.
3. How did it make you feel when you were published for the very first time?
Stunned….thrilled…stunned! I was very shocked when I received the email making an offer to publish The Color of Tea. I didn’t expect it and I couldn’t believe it for many weeks. In fact, it still seems a bit unreal. I know it sounds like a cliche but is a dream come true for me.
4. What is next for you?
More books! For now my days are full to the brim caring for my two young daughters but I will be writing again soon and producing more books for you to read and enjoy. In the meantime you can find news, updates and blog posts on my website:www.hannahtunnicliffe.com
(Here's a fun question I like to end with)
5. Desert Island time, you can bring one person & one thing, what & who would you bring?
That is such a hard question, Natalie! It reminds me of my favourite radio show – BBC’s desert island discs – where guests have to select a few songs, one book and a ‘luxury’ to take with them to a deserted island. I’m not sure I could choose only one person to take with me as I have a husband and two daughters and I couldn’t possibly select only one from the three of them. Perhaps, if it were only a very short stay before inevitable rescue, I would choose to take along Barbara Kingsolver, my favourite author, so I could ask her lots of questions and have a chat about her writing, life and ideas. In which case my ‘thing’ might have to be a tea set - a teapot, tea and cups – so I have something to offer her to drink. I mean, it wouldn’t be right to have a lovely long chat with Barbara Kingsolver without sharing a cup of tea, would it? ;-)
Note to Natalie – Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I hope you enjoy the book! Love your desert island question, even though it was tricky to answer ;-)
Best wishes, Hannah.

You are most welcome and anytime you'd like to come back you are always welcome here with us, and thank you for taking the time to sit and answer some questions for me today that was so much fun, I wish you tons of success on your debut novel and novels to come!! 

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