Friday, December 29, 2017

"The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop" by Caroline Roberts

This month’s selection for the Tea Lovers’ Book Club, The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop by Caroline Roberts, wasn’t quite what I'd expected. The book was a bit edgier than I’d imagined, and it had some serious moments I didn't expect because of the book’s chick-lit cover, but overall I thought it was an enjoyable read.

Summary: Fall is on the way, and castle tea shop proprietress and wedding caterer Ellie Hall is busy trying to drum up more business at Claverham Castle, which is owned by her curmudgeonly father-in-law, Lord Henry. The book begins as Ellie is faced with a real Bridezilla who has suddenly decided she’s intent on a unicorn-themed wedding. It sounds perfectly ghastly, but Ellie manages to make the best of it, pulls it off, and explores even more ways she and her husband, Joe, can help keep the cash flowing to the old castle. As Christmastime approaches, she and her staff decide to hold a Christmas fair at the castle, and the baking and entertaining ramp up once again—especially when there's a Christmas wedding for a favorite couple who’d experienced a near tragedy and had to rebook.

My thoughts: While the author has a nice descriptive writing style, the book caused me to stumble at times because it contained so many grammar and punctuation errors and typos. I got the impression this was a book no one bothered to proofread, and that’s a shame, because the author clearly has the potential to be top-notch with some very basic cleanup of the text. When I forced myself to focus on the story itself, I found the tale quite enjoyable.

The characters: I very much enjoyed getting to know Ellie and Joe and found their relationship genuine and believable. I was surprised to see the early focus on their troubles getting pregnant, but that struck me as a very real plotline, and it didn’t overtake the coziness of the book. Of the other characters, one of my favorites ended up being cranky old Lord Henry, never more than when he got roped into performing as Father Christmas and was kind to a little girl with Down syndrome. Kindness—especially to children—scores you a lot of points in my book!

Questions for discussion:

Food. In a tea-themed book, I expect to see lots of great descriptions of the food and beverages, and this book did not disappoint in that regard. I was happy to see a few mentions of Garibaldi biscuits (or "cookies," to us) since one of my Christmas gifts was a British cookbook that has a recipe for them. I also enjoyed reading about the stacked cake made of cheeses and thought this would be a wonderful treat to have at a wedding or other large social event. Do you like to read about the food in a book like this?

UK differences. While reading a book by an author in the UK, I enjoy noting the differences in some of our terminology, such as the fact that they say "biscuit" instead of "cookie." And I could not even type the title of this blog post without first typing "cozy" instead of "cosy." Did you note these differences? Did you enjoy spotting them?

Sense of place. The author did a fine job of creating a real sense of place with the descriptions of the old castle and its advantages (history, beauty) and disadvantages (the wiring, the plumbing). When a deep snow falls right before an important wedding, I could truly picture the magnificent scene. Did you have a vivid picture of the setting in your mind?

Our next book: Now that we’ve read two novels in a row, I think it’s time to go for some nonfiction, so I’ve selected Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler. I'd love to have you read it and join in the discussion on Friday, January 26!


  1. I did enjoy this book, although there were times when I wish I had read the first book in the series before reading this one. I really enjoyed all the English details – the food, the word spellings and usage, etc. I agree that I became quite fond of the main characters and loved the castle setting. I expect to seek out other books in this series in the future.

  2. Forewarned is forearmed. Thanks, Angela, for the warning. I have downloaded the book and intend to read it... next year;-) Kris

  3. Didn't get a chance to read this one... but just ordered the nonfiction book about Darjeeling. Hope it arrives soon!

  4. Darjeeling is a book I have been wanting to read. Humm? Wondering if Barnes and Noble has it. Must run there this afternoon.

  5. How did I miss this one? Oh no! I think it was unavailable on Nook?

  6. That's surprising that it has so many errors and typos since it is an imprint of Harper Collins.
    Does sound like an interesting story, have added to my list to read. I love cozy mysteries and set in a castle is even more intriguing.

  7. I did enjoy this book. It was a very easy read. I had a tiered cheese cake at my wedding too! My Mom grew up on a dairy farm, so it was a nod to my Wisconsin roots. I've got to put, having tea in a castle, on my bucket list. Although I'm not sure it could live up to the image in my mind now that I've read this book.


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