Is there a genre of fiction called Food Lit? If so, The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones fits right in. Sadly, there weren’t any recipes mixed up in the story, but there were lots of references to yummy things. I liked the cover too, the pink and green is really pretty and the cake silhouettes look fantastic. Since I love cake and biscuits and pastries and pies and just about everything that can be found in a bakery window, this cover is my idea of perfection.
The story is a romance, (yes, this is obvious from the pretty, girly cover), but with travel and food thrown in. The story was enjoyable while I was reading it, but not memorable in any way. Just the thing for an afternoon on the couch.
The heroine of The Travelling Tea Shop is Laurie, an English woman living in the USA. Her business is arranging the most wonderful holidays for her clients, one of whom is a famous English baker named Pamela someone-or-other.
Pamela is writing a new cookbook, which are to be based on areas visited during the trip Laurie plans for Pamela and her family. Laurie ends up accompanying the group as they travel between New York and Vermont, visiting areas which are famous for particular sweet treats, with Pamela swapping recipes with other famous chefs along the way. Boston Cream Pie, Victoria Sponge, Whoopie Pies, Salted Caramel Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cheesecake and many more lovely descriptions of cake left me raiding the pantry to find something sweet to scoff while I read. (I found chocolate, if anyone cares).
Laurie gets caught up in Pamela’s family troubles, of which there are many. Pamela is getting a divorce and is struggling with her emotions. Her feisty mother, who is driving the red, double-decker bus the group is travelling in is a breath of fresh air, but Pamela’s spoiled teenage daughter, Ravenna, needs a good smack. (Not that it is politically correct for parents in Australia to smack their children anymore, but you know what I mean). Ravenna has an eating disorder, a nasty boyfriend and a sense of entitlement, which poor old Laurie gets to deal with. The situation is complicated when an accident leaves Pamela’s mother in hospital and an old boyfriend of Pamela’s joins the group to drive the bus.
Laurie has problems of her own which come to a head during the trip too, but fear not, with a cover this pretty, you know things will work out for the best for everyone.
I would read another book by Belinda Jones on a lazy day, but the story, (apart from the fantastic idea of combining travelling with a cook book author and all of the lovely descriptions of baked treats), was probably not distinctive enough for me to particularly recommend unless you’re a sucker for romance, travelling and cake.