Last week I pulled Hannah Tunnicliffe’s debut novel, The Color of Tea (Scribner, 2012) from the new fiction section at my public library. She got me at tea. But when I turned it over to read the back cover, I was excited to learn that the story was set in Macau. Not many books are set there, fiction or non.
With the kids starting school and my niece from New York adding a fourth child to our household this week, I kept The Color of Tea at my side until I finished it today. If you’re looking for a sweet story to round off the end of the season, this is a great choice.
Grace Miller is a young British woman who comes from a broken home. Her husband, Pete, is an Aussie who builds casinos for a living. It’s Pete job that takes the couple to Macau. Soon after they arrive, they learn that Grace is unable to get pregnant. Her hopes shattered, she decides to take the money they’ve saved for IVF and use it to buy a restaurant space.
It’s at Lillian’s, Grace’s cafe that specializes in tea and French macarons (each chapter is cleverly named after a different flavor of macaron), that she finds a group of strong-minded women from all walks of life: expats, Filipina domestic workers, local Macau Chinese. They help each other and become close in ways they never expected when they first met.
The Macau setting is unique, but the story relates to broad issues like mother-daughter relationships, husband-wife ones, and finding an identity in a new setting. It’s a hopeful story for when life takes unexpected turns.