20 November 2014

Book Review: The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene

"The Seafront Tea Rooms is a peaceful hideaway, away from the bustle of the seaside, and in this quiet place a group of women find exactly what they've been searching for.

Charismatic journalist Charlotte is on a mission to scope out Britain's best tea rooms. She knows she's found something special in the Seafront Tea Rooms but is it a secret she should share? 

Kathryn, a single mother whose only sanctuary is the 'Seafront', convinces Charlie to keep the place out of her article by agreeing to join her on her search. Together with another regular, Seraphine, a culture-shocked French au pair with a passion for pastry-making, they travel around the country discovering quaint hideaways and hidden gems. 

But what none of them expect is for their journey to surprise them with discoveries of a different kind . . ."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Seafront Tea Rooms as a paperback or an eBook now.

Vanessa Greene's second novel has been a few years in the making. After the strength of her debut novel The Vintage Tea Cup Club from 2012, I have been eagerly awaiting another book from this author, and finally it has arrived. The cover of this book is gorgeous, similar to Vanessa's other book but the vivid blue certainly makes it stand out. I love books where there is an ensemble cast, and this book delivered on that. We follow 3 women, each going on a journey of their own and seeing how the Seafront Tea Rooms are going to bring them all together and help them in their various problems and to move on with their lives. For me, this was a stunning book that I quickly fell in love with, and is one I can whole-heartedly recommend.

As I said, the book follows 3 women. They all have a different tale to tell, and I enjoyed discovering their lives as the book goes on, and how they are all coping with the various things going on in their lives. There's French au pair Seraphine, who loves to cook but finds herself a bit of a fish out of water when she moves in with a new family, Adam and Zoe, and her young charge is more than a little bit difficult. Kathryn, a single mother living near the Seafront Tea Rooms is struggling to make a life for herself as well as looking after her young son, but is also finding the relationship with her ex-partner to be difficult to manage too. Finally, there's journalist Charlie who is on a mission to find some of the best tea rooms in the country. She stumbles across the Seafront Tea Rooms, and wants to tell the world about them, but she wonders what the story is behind the shop and it's owner too...

 I loved the way this story is woven, and how these three individuals are brought together in a believable way for the story, and tell their own tales as well as one of the group. At the beginning, none of the women know each other, and we are introduced to them one at a time. All are very likeable, but I particularly warmed to Kathryn, who I felt a bit of a likeness to. Her relationship with her young son was a joy to read, and I loved their closeness. Seraphine is very loveable too, desperate to make friends in her new town as well as trying to make her young charge Zoe respond to her and start speaking French once more, despite the heartache she is hiding from Seraphine and her father. Charlie is the outgoing glue that holds the group together, and as a unit, they bounce off each other, creating a wonderful friendship that quickly blossoms and shows off their skills as individuals, as well as making you realise what a strong group they are.

The Seafront Tea Rooms are exactly the sort of kitschy tea shop you can imagine settling down into with a cup of tea and a good book for a few hours in the morning or afternoon. I loved Greene's descriptions of it, from the tea and cakes served, to the wonderful woman Letty who runs the tea shop. Kat is very fond of Letty, you can tell the pair have a deep friendship and I liked how passionate Letty was about her tea shop. Her son is occasionally involved, but it is Letty's baby and she is keen to keep it that way. There are some shocking twists and turns in the book as it goes on, and I was really taken by surprise by one in particular. I hadn't seen it coming and reacted much like the characters in the book did - shock and disbelief. I loved that Greene was able to keep that from us, and the way the story slowly unfolded, it was brilliant writing at its best.

This is one book that keeps you wanting to read more and more until the end of the book. The chapters aren't particularly long, and it definitely draws you in, thinking you can read just one more chapter before you have to turn off the lights at night! For me, this was a fantastic read for the cold winter months coming up... it's great to curl up with a big slice of cake and a hot drink and lose yourself in the pages of this book. Vanessa Greene's writing is a pleasure to read, and the story is wonderfully written, with fantastic characters, heart-warming stories and plenty of yummy cakes too! A perfect book in many ways, and I can't wait to read more from Vanessa Greene - hopefully I won't have to wait 2 years for the next one!

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