Cover image for The Color of Tea
The Color of Tea
Hannah Tunnicliffe
Womens Fiction
Literary Fiction
A startling new voice in literary fiction, Hannah Tunnicliffe crafts a powerful debut with The Color of Tea. Grace Miller and her husband move to Macau, China, to...
Recorded Books, Inc.
Digital Format:
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Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

A sweet, airy novel for women and about women: a barren wife, stuck in Macau, China, salvages her sanity by opening a French cafe. Grace and her husband Pete are devastated when they learn they can't have a child. Pete, who opens casinos in exotic places, escapes sorrow in his exhausting job; Grace wallows in grief at home until she remembers seeing a property for sale "with ovens." She decides to turn the once smoky Portuguese restaurant into Lillian's, a cafe serving tea, coffee, macarons... and healing, and not just for Grace. She acquires a regular clientele, first old Yok Lan, and then the beautiful expat Marjory. She hires a secretive, hardworking Filipino girl named Rilla to help her navigate the language barrier, and a brusque Chinese girl named Gigi, good with dishonest suppliers, who Grace discovers is pregnant. Making macarons, the women bond, so that when tragedy strikes they're able to withstand what threatens them. The denouement is predictable, almost maudlin, but satisfying. This debut author dishes up a fair amount of culinary metaphor, but Macau, rich in potential, is absent; the women in this cafe could be anywhere. Agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Grace Miller is living in Macau, China, with her husband, Pete, who is working on a new casino. She is disconnected from everyone around her, for her inability to have children separates her from the other expat wives, and the language barrier prevents her from meeting locals. She and Pete grow farther apart as deep emotional hurts go unaddressed. Grace finds some reprieve writing unsent letters to her wild, estranged mother, dwelling on memories of a nomadic childhood and a fondness for Parisian bakeries. The only one she feels close to is a handsome, married Frenchman, who encourages her to open a cafe specializing in the macarons she loves. The novel starts slowly, bogged down by the weight of Grace's depression. But as the cafe grows, Grace's relationships with her employees and customers deepen, and the pace picks up. A gorgeous, exotic location, mouthwatering baked treats, and incredible female bonding make this a debut worth checking out. Plus, macarons are the new cupcake, so this should be an easy sell, especially to fans of other foodie women's fiction, such as Erica Bauermeister's The School of Essential Ingredients (2009).--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Grace arrives in Macau with her husband, Pete, in 2007, the Year of the Pig. Pete is working on the construction of a new casino, but Grace has nothing much to do. When she learns that she is unable to have children, both she and Pete are heartbroken. To fill her time and assuage her grief, she decides to do something bold: inspired by her love of baking and afternoon tea, she opens a cafe dedicated to her impetuous mother, Lillian. While building the business, she forges friendships that help her reconstruct her shattered life. In her first novel, Tunnicliffe creates a rich story of life and its complexities, of gains and losses, of good days and bad. Her characters are like the pastries at Lillian's Cafe-exotic combinations of sweet and spicy ingredients that make up the whole. VERDICT A sweet and melancholy story that captures the imagination, this book will appeal to most readers of women's fiction.-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Lib., Providence (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Prologue We arrived in Macau at the end of the Year of the Golden Pig. Apparently a golden pig year comes around only once every sixty, and it brings good fortune. So when we came to make Macau our home, at the backside end of this golden pig year, there were fat, pink pigs dancing in bank ads, sparkly cartoon pigs wearing Chinese pajamas hanging in the local bakery, and tiny souvenir golden pigs for sale at the post office. All those pigs around me were comforting, with their full snouts and chubby grins. Welcome to Macau! they snorted. You'll like it here. We do! I was willing to accept any good luck a golden hog could throw at me. Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace, though by now the sand and silt have crept up and almost covered the silk of the ocean in between. Gobbled up, like most everything in Macau, by Progress. Progress and gambling. This tiny country, only twenty-eight square kilometers, once a sleepy Portuguese outpost, is the only place in China where you can drop a coin into a slot or lay a chip on kidney-shaped lawns of soft, green felt. The Vegas of the East. Bright lights, little city, fast cash. We stepped off the ferry from Hong Kong on the eighth of January 2008. The date had a nice ring to it. A fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. We arrived with suitcases full of the light, breezy clothes usually reserved for the brief but seductive British summer. We were full of naïve optimism about our new life adventure. My Australian husband and his red-haired, blush-of-cheek English rose. We were babes in the woods. The January winter was bitter in more ways than one. It was one of the coldest on record, and we were freezing in our bright, thin clothes. Every morning the sky was the color of milk. The apartment had no central heating, and it took us some time to realize we needed a dehumidifier. The walls started to bloom with a dark mold, which spread like a growing bruise, and I couldn't feel my fingers in the evenings. It was the kind of damp cold that settles deep in the marrow of your bones and refuses to budge. This is where I will start. Our life in this cold month, before the Year of the Rat began. When we couldn't run any longer from realities; when life hunted us down and found us. It followed us all the way from Melbourne to London, London to Macau. All that running, and still we were discovered, no longer able to hide out in the meaningless details of our life--who is making breakfast and could you remember to pick up the dry cleaning. 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. Excerpted from The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.