Jane Gilley comes to the blog with a story that, like the characters, takes a bit of patience in
The Afternoon Tea Club
Getting older, or finding yourself feeling out of place in the places that you inhabit are common to us all. And this story takes on the task of bringing together several very different people at varying stages of their lives, and giving them the opportunity to interact, make new friendships, and find their way in the world not feeling quite so alone. A brainstorm from a community council worker has turned the center into a tearoom for a first meeting: looking to serve residents. Basically, the forming idea was to dispel loneliness, and everyone we will come to know as the story progresses is lonely. From Marjorie living with her daughter and having become quite bitter after the death of her husband and prone to outbursts that are not very nice; to Stacy who has given her life to ‘house’ eight cats in a tiny one bed flat and never quite ‘keeps up’;to Raymond who is carrying guilt over his beloved wife’s death and lastly we have Dora – never quite finding her place in the family company because she was too busy (at first) being an aimless teen acting out – to hiding a big secret.
Patience, readers – patience. For we are dropped into the story at the first meeting of the tea club – and the sheer number of characters (primary and secondary) and the unfurling of their own stories and how they came to be what they are when we meet is a slow journey, with almost imperceptible changes and setbacks happening with them all. When you take the time to let the story unfold, the voices of each main character will start to sound familiar and distinct, and the questions that each brings to the story will also feel natural and organic.
Slowly friendships start to form as each of the above four starts to make changes in their interactions, share their stories, and see the meetings of the club as something to look forward to – along with a series of other activities that offer different choices for them all. Now, this wasn’t a clear rush to the end, even as the ending did seem to wrap up a bit quickly, but there is time to invest in the friendships and the changes as each character finds a way to come to terms with their niggling issues, and discovers a strength and support in the others. A bit too wordy at times, and with many secondary characters that needed either to be dropped entirely or given a bit more depth, this is a read that isn’t too taxing after sorting out the ‘who’s who” moments – and will leave you with a smile over a cup of tea.
Title: The Afternoon Tea Club
Author: Jane Gilley
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction
Published by: Avon Books UK
Published on: 12 December, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Everyone’s welcome at The Afternoon Tea Club…
Marjorie, Stacy, Raymond and Dora each hold a different story to their chest – lost loves, abandoned dreams, crippling self-confidence issues, and simply feeling invisible. For each of them, the thought of letting those stories out is almost as terrifying as letting strangers in, and that makes for a very lonely life indeed.
But when these four strangers who have struggled to “fit in” end up on the same table for an event at their local community centre, little do they know that their lives are about to be entwined and changed forever because of an Afternoon Tea club.
Cue an unexpected journey of self-discovery, some unlikely new companions, and plenty of tea and biscuits along the way…
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.