Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tea and Books Saturday #45: "Six Girls and the Tea Room"

Six Girls and the Tea Room
By Marion Ames Taggart
W.A. Wilde Company, 1907

This 1907 book is one I found on eBay a while back, and though I bought it purely because of the title and the graphics, I loved it because of the story! Six fatherless girls - the Scollard sisters Margery, Happie, Laura, Penny, Polly and their friend Gretta - are living in a flat in New York City and decide to open a tearoom. Following their father's death their mother has had to go to work for a large firm to support her family, which also includes a son, Bob, who is himself working and trying to provide support. The girls decide it's their turn to help make ends meet.

The illustration above (double-click for more detail) shows two of the girls selecting teawares for the business: "They were delightful days of selection of materials for hangings, picking out teacups, spoons, dear little chunky Japanese teapots, sugar bowls and cream jugs and pretty plates. They were made by the artistic Japanese in such good designs and colors that only when one turned them over and saw the quality of the ware did one realize that they were picked up on one of the tables at Mardine's where tempting Japanese knickknacks play a sort of progressive game of their own, from the fifteen cent table up to the dollar one, after which they retire to the shelves as winners." Another tidbit about the business: In the days leading up to their grand opening, Margery checked and rechecked the tea caddies "to make perfectly certain that she had labeled aright Ceylon, English Breakfast and Oolong."

I was pleasantly surprised that this old book had such an interesting plot. The character lessons were ones I expected (and enjoyed), but there was much in this book that surprised me considering the time in which it was written:

-- One evening's supper included potato salad from the deli (well, "delicatessen"). Sounds like today, doesn't it?

-- Another mealtime offering that surprised me was spaghetti. I just didn't picture anyone in the U.S. in 1907 eating spaghetti!

-- When the brother is injured on the ice one winter and has to miss work for a week, the second oldest girl, Happie, fills in for him, and admirably, at his office. That was a surprise -- but of course I wasn't surprised she did a great job!

-- At one family party, there was talk of playing "the old game of pinning the tail on the donkey." If it was already old in 1907, then that truly *is* an old game!

But enough trivia. This book follows the lives of a family trying to make it under rather difficult conditions, but determined to live cheerful, meaningful lives. In the midst of it all there is romance and lost love, a mystery (who IS that man in the sombrero who keeps visiting the tearoom to play the piano?), and more than a little fun. (Brother Bob is quite the jokester, and his jokes somehow come across as fresh and new -- and funny!)

"Six Girls and the Tea Room" is 318 pages long, but the lively pace and charming characters made it whiz right by. An online search showed there are still copies around, including in some libraries, so if you come across this book I would absolutely recommend reading it!


  1. That does sound like an entertaining read - I'll have to look for it. Thanks.

  2. How fun to find an old book on a subject we love.I read new books just like that.I would have been so excited.

  3. what a great review :)
    thx for the insider's info..

  4. This sounds like a wonderful book to read - very inspiring. Thank you for another great review, Angela. Hope you have a nice weekend, Joanie

  5. This would be a very fun book to find.

  6. Hi there! I'm catching up on my blog visits! What a delightful little book! I lurve the worn look of it too! You got a keeper there!

  7. Love your post.Just my type of fun.Old books about women enjoying tea.Great!


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