The Teashop on the Corner by Milly Johnson

In brief: Leni’s teashop is where a number of strangers meet and help each other through hard times.

The good: Left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling that there are still good people in the world.

The not-so-good: The characters feel like friends now, and I’m sad to leave them.

Why I chose it: The title caught my eye (I love tea, and the sweet treats found in tea shops). Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the eARC.

Year: 2014

Pages: 512 (eARC)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Setting: England

My rating: 9 out of 10

The Teashop on the Corner was the perfect book to read in the lead up to Christmas – food, friendship, love and overcoming life’s stumbling blocks wrapped up in a delightful package. My only regret is that I didn’t write this review earlier so you could all rush out and buy it for Christmas! Never mind – there’s long, lazy summer days in Australia and long, cosy nights in the northern hemisphere to be had this month, so get on to it! This book is perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy and Cathy Kelly as it has that warm, friendly feeling that you’re part of a community.

The story opens with the funeral of Carla’s husband Martin, who died unexpectedly. Nobody expected an astonishing secret to be revealed at the service and now poor Carla is heartbroken and about to be homeless. Meanwhile Will has just lost his business and his wife. What’s worse is that he’s now a roofing man with a fear of heights… Molly’s got a sneaking suspicion that she’s losing her mind as things keep on disappearing and her daughter-in-law suggests she should move into an old folks’ home. What will happen when her ex appears on her doorstep?

It’s Leni, owner of The Teashop on the Corner that brings this disparate crew together over Austen Tuesdays and delectable cakes. They become good friends, able to help each other through the hard times and see that good things are just around the corner.

Initially I was confused when a book with a title about a teashop opened with a funeral, but I soon got into the swing of things as each character was introduced. The characters were all so well drawn and likeable that I didn’t have a favourite, but wanted to know what was happening to all of them. This made the pages speed by until I was at the end and felt somewhat bereft at letting the characters go. Milly Johnson also put all of the main characters through the wringer, which made for a more exciting story and the added bonus of seeing them grow through the book (Carla especially). There’s also the mouth-watering description of Leni’s cakes to read as the characters meet each Tuesday – they had me thinking how I could recreate those treats in my kitchen…

The story, despite the sad parts that happen to each character, is a lovely one. Each page is handled with grace and gentle humour. While it’s a light read, it handles sensitive subjects (your heart will break as Ryan explains why he needs a part-time job – to save up for a Kindle) but it finishes with a warm glow. I highly recommend this as a book to relax with this summer (or winter) and let the story take you away to a place of good friends, love and delectable cakes.

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