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Review: The Color of Tea

July 17, 2012

Grace feels isolated living in Macau, China with her husband.  She doesn’t speak the language and her husband is busy with work and she’s learning to accept that they will never be able to have children.   When she notices a vacant restaurant for rent Grace decides to open a coffee shop and bake the beloved macarons her mother introduced her to as a child.  She names the coffee shop Lillian’s, after her mother, and finds a family in the women who gather there – both employees and customers.

The Color of Tea, by Hannah Tunnicliffe is a story of love and survival.  It’s about forgiveness, hope, and strength.  Add the descriptions of tea and macarons and you have a winning combination . . . for the most part.

Grace is a fabulous character.  I could feel her isolation, since I’ve known it in my own life.  It’s not easy to make a life for yourself in a new place when you don’t speak the language.  Add the grief of her infertility and her unstable childhood and it’s easy to see why Grace felt sad.  She was determined though, saying,

It was time to find a life for myself.  To make something out of nothing.  The end of hope and the beginning of it too.

I’m generally not drawn to character-driven novels, but the characters in this one were so wonderful and realistic and the backdrop of Lillian’s (and the macarons) added such a great dimension, I found myself eager to get back to the book to see what Grace and her friends were up to.  I came to care for these characters and was anxious to get back to them when I had to set the book down.  I cheered at their triumphs and cringed at their mistakes.

The Color of Tea was close to being a stellar read for me and probably would have been if it weren’t for the ending.  I felt like the ending came out of left field and it hit me like a punch in the gut.  After mulling it around in my brain for a few days, I still don’t think it fits the rest of the book.  If you’ve read the book I’d love to know what you thought of the end.

Overall, I’d say I enjoyed the book a great deal – I just wish it had ended differently.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
35 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 5:35 am

    I immediately thought of Chocolat by Joanne Harris when I read your review.

  2. July 17, 2012 5:52 am

    I thinkI would like this one very much myself.

  3. July 17, 2012 6:52 am

    Sounds like a story that has been done before, but I am curious about the ending since it impacted you so much.

  4. July 17, 2012 7:03 am

    I read the book and thought it was pretty good (i didn’t enjoy it quite as much as you though) and felt the exact same thing when I finished it. The ending was totally unrealistic and strange, but I had a feeling part way through the novel that it may end that way. I think the author wanted to tie up loose ends but in doing so made it too picture perfect for my tastes!

  5. July 17, 2012 7:31 am

    I’ve been seeing this one around lately and I think I’d really love it (and the macaroons!) — as you know, I *do* like character-driven novels.

  6. July 17, 2012 7:38 am

    This does sound really good, but I do get frustrated when you’ve invested so much time in a book and the ending doesn’t seem right.

  7. Beth Hoffman permalink
    July 17, 2012 9:05 am

    I’m quite fond of character-driven novels and think I’ll add this to my list!

  8. July 17, 2012 9:13 am

    I’m curious about this book, but it doesn’t seem fair if the ending just “comes out of left field.” Like in a mystery novel, the ending should be hinted at throughout the book.

  9. sandynawrot permalink
    July 17, 2012 9:46 am

    Questionable ending or not, I think this is one that I would like. Not always do I enjoy character-driven novels, especially if all the characters are miserable. But it sounds like the protagonist finds peace and hope and friendship.

  10. July 17, 2012 10:45 am

    It sounds like a good novel. Shame the ending felt so disjointed from the rest of the book.

  11. zibilee permalink
    July 17, 2012 10:49 am

    I will be reading this one soon, so I will have to speak to you about the ending when I finish and see what we both think about it. It sounds like a really interesting book, and since I love character driven novels, I can imagine that I will like this one a lot. But that ending…now I am curious about how this one plays out!

  12. July 17, 2012 11:17 am

    I so wanna taste a macaroon now 😦

  13. July 17, 2012 11:17 am

    Oooh — I passed on the tour for this one b/c I was worried it’d be too fluffy — but now you’ve got me curious. I would love to hear more abt the ending — I hate that kind of whiplash ending so I suspect it would have bothered me, too!

  14. July 17, 2012 11:31 am

    I love the sound of this one Kathy, very emotional. You have me intrigued on the ending, had you thinking days later and you still don’t agree with ending, interesting. Adding to my Wishlist, never heard or seen this cover before.

  15. July 17, 2012 12:46 pm

    Of course now I’m curious about the ending! :–) But I *hate* macaroons! (hate coconut)

  16. July 17, 2012 2:01 pm

    Sounds very interesting. I like it when characters feel realistic. Always a good thing.

  17. July 17, 2012 2:42 pm

    Kathy, I skimmed your review as I will be reading and reviewing this book next month. I’m glad it was a stellar read for you! 🙂

  18. Patty permalink
    July 17, 2012 3:10 pm

    Uh oh…that worries me when you don’t like the ending…but the book sounds lovely!

  19. July 17, 2012 3:14 pm

    Such a shame when a book you’ve been enjoying doesn’t end well.

  20. July 17, 2012 3:22 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading this one for the tour. Sorry the ending didn’t work for you. I hope I like it.

  21. Literary Feline permalink
    July 17, 2012 4:25 pm

    I love character driven novels and am curious about this one. I do hate it when the ending of a book I am really enjoying comes out of left field though. I’ll be curious to read others’ thoughts on the book before I decide one way or the other on this one. Great review, Kathy!

  22. July 17, 2012 8:09 pm

    I need to start reading more books like this. My only problem is that I never buy them, eventhough I think I would enjoy them.

  23. July 17, 2012 9:52 pm

    I haven’t seen any other reviews on this book, and I enjoyed what you had to say. I have added the book to TBR list! Thanks!

  24. July 17, 2012 10:38 pm

    Did you ever eat macarons when you lived in France? I’ve always wondered if they taste as good as they look.

  25. July 17, 2012 11:40 pm

    I can’t imagine moving somewhere and not speaking the native language.
    It’s sad when you read a book and not like how it ends!

  26. July 18, 2012 7:26 am

    I think it sounds wonderful – and it sounds as if book groups would love discussing the ending!

  27. July 19, 2012 1:34 pm

    Honestly, I will have to read this if for no other reason but to find out what the ending is all about. This is the second review that I have read that where the reader found the end out of place. Interesting, and too bad really, especially after reading that it was a remarkable read up until that point. Thank you for your review.

  28. bookingmama permalink
    July 19, 2012 3:40 pm

    I’m anxious to read this one and see if what you say is true for the ending!

  29. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    July 20, 2012 9:07 am

    I must read this one because I have to know what happened at the end of the book!

  30. July 20, 2012 10:31 am

    i hate it when books are like that! i much rather have a book start out bad but have an awesome ending than the other way around. i admit that i love character driven book and i’m a little interested in what the ending is that made you have this reaction. maybe i’ll give this one a try myself.

  31. July 21, 2012 8:42 pm

    I really want to know what happens at the end! I can’t imagine starting a business in a foreign country without speaking the language.

  32. July 22, 2012 5:46 pm

    Well you already know that I liked the ending. 🙂 I definitely saw it coming miles away, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed it more? It was definitely way too tidy to be realistic but I guess maybe since I predicted it, and wanted good things for those characters, I was ok with it.

  33. stilettostorytime permalink
    July 27, 2012 10:55 pm

    I enjoyed it as it did hit a very personal note for me like you mentioned…my review is still up as is a giveaway if any of your readers would like a chance to win their own copy!

    Stiletto Storytime

  34. Janine Bertram permalink
    July 28, 2012 1:25 pm

    I agree with the comments on the ending…it was like a chapter was missing … I looked back for
    a reference to the epilogue thinking I had missed a page or two. Did Grace trade the shop to Gigi in exchange for Faith?

  35. boardinginmyforties permalink
    August 14, 2012 2:58 pm

    I like the sound of this one but am a bit worried about that ending!

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