The Colour of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe
One of the main reasons I decided to join a book club, is the opportunity to read different genre of books and authors (the other was to attempt that thing called cooking!), and I was very glad for the recommendation of this book.
Having read the author’s bio, and feeling “the world is a small place!” moment, myself born and raised in Vancouver, my husband from New Zealand, and before knowing of this book in March, my husband and I just started holiday plans for next year to Hong Kong (Rugby 7’s – of course!), which we hope will include a side trip to Macau and other parts of China. The author, Hannah Tunnicliffe, is from New Zealand, has lived and worked in Macau and just until recently having lived in Vancouver as well … Three times the charm … it’s a must read for me!
We first met the main character Grace Miller taking the bus, on her own for the first time in Macau, not speaking a word of Cantonese or Portugese, on her way to find a fortune teller at the temple in the old historic San Malo part of Macau. Little do we know this bus ride is just the beginning of the roller coaster we were about to take.
We went everywhere … from very serious issues of physical and mental abuse, depression, infertility, unfaithfulness, to mental disorders … to such highs which included opening a Tea Shop in Macau of all things, and the many other things Grace and her eclectic network of friends builds on throughout the book, slowly, step by step.
Along this journey, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. The sometimes frustration I felt with Grace …. yelling (with my inside voice) … “oh come on Grace” ! Other times I was jumping for joy celebrating her successes right along with her and her friends.
The Tea Shop being a main character of it’s own, food and the making of food, also a central part throughout. Each chapter begins with a mouth-watering description, in all a total of 27 very yummy and exotic sounding, of the delicate French pastries called Macaron. We learn as Grace learns how to make these delicate pastries (from Leon, the very handsome French chef ), and just how intimidating they are to bake.
So as incredible as it would be make these, I even saw a groupon for Macaron-making classes recently which I was tempted to get, but really, let’s be serious for a moment, I’m not a baker. For the “cooking” part of this book review, I needed something a little less intimidating. Marla and I just couldn’t get our schedules to jive this time – so I’m going to be cooking on my own this time!
So what to do? … well in the end, it wasn’t that difficult a decision – I’d never heard of a Tomato Tart before!
And, what a description we are treated to … such a great passage in the book having a memory within a memory. Grace is thinking back to when she first meets her future husband Pete, but part of the memory is connected to the memory of Grace’s mom making her a tomato tart all those many years ago as well.
Another reason for choosing the Tomato Tart … growing up in Vancouver, we had a vegetable garden and fruit trees in our backyard. We always had an abundance of juicy ripe tomatoes and still do under Mom’s care! There is nothing quite like being able to pick a ripe tomato right off the vine and eat it straight away! So decision made, off I go to figure out how to make a Tomato Tart, hope you’ll join me as my adventure continues.
I’ve just realized this will still require some form of baking!
What have I gotten myself into!